Heather's Television Movie Review: Living Proof
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Lifetime did it's part to make its viewing audience aware of this in their latest television movie Living Proof. Don't assume that Proof was a complete Lifetime movie of the week cliché because it's not. The film's story was one that needed to be told to make the audience aware of alternative research in breast cancer.
Proof began with Dr. Dennis Slamon's (Harry Connick Jr.) quest to cure breast cancer in its most terminal phase. Slamon went about pushing the medical boundaries when no one else was willing to pursue them. He gave patients hope when their other doctors told them to get their affairs in order. His hope came in the form of a cancer drug known as Hep-2.
At the start of the film, Slamon had little money and support to go on. He had Blake (John Benjamin Hickey), his only ally from the drug company he was working with, and his assistant Jamie (Amanda Bynes) to keep him on course. Slamon's frustrations carried over into his home life with his supportive wife Donna (Paula Cale) by his side even when he missed too many dinners at home. Slamon believed his long suffering research was completely over until his close friend Lilly Tartikoff (Angie Harmon) offered to help.
Once Lilly entered the pictured, Slamon's research seemed to move much faster until reality set in. Nothing was going to change unless the drug company stopped placing a line in the sand that Slamon couldn't cross. After the line was erased, a barrage of terminal cancer patients arrived to begin part of Slamon's study including Jennifer Coolidge, Trudie Styler and Regina King. The last half of Proof focused on the progression of Slamon's study through its successes and setbacks. The film's conclusion was obvious because most Lifetime movies were set up with some semblance of an ending wrapped in a neat little bow, but it was amazing regardless.
Connick's performance as Slamon was the glue that held the film together. Proof was the type of film that Connick carried best. He carried the right amount of humor and sadness as he fought to keep his patients alive long to enjoy what's left of them. His chemistry with Cale demonstrated the characters' real life relationship was stronger than anything his work had to offer. Connick's eyes always illustrated his concern especially when his work or a patient was falling apart. His performance helped make the film worth viewing.
Bynes and Harmon didn't have much to do except support Connick in their scenes with him. Unfortunately, Harmon disappeared too soon in the film and never explained what became of her character. Her performance as Lilly was entertaining enough but seemed to resemble some of her previous work with her no non-sense approach to life. Bynes, on the other hand, showed a more serious side to her that hadn't been shown on film too much. She made her character genuinely care about Slamon's research and the patients. When she disagreed with Slamon's rejection of a patient, the audience saw the sadness in her eyes and believed it.
The supporting female cast was a wide array of celebrities that were too many to count. Too much time was focused on certain characters while others were ignored. It would have been interesting to know more about Trudie Styler's hippie character. She seemed to offer an interesting story that was never fully explored. One major character omission was the emergence and disappearance of Swoosie Kurtz's Elizabeth and her family. The film spent all this time delving into the family's struggle with breast cancer until their part in the research was over.
In the end, Proof showed how to never give up when things were too tough because the end results justified the means. Slamon's justification was the resounding cheers of the women he helped. And that made all the difference.
Movie score: 4.5 out of 5 stars