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Living Proof, Based on the True Story of Dr. Dennis Slamon -- A Movie Review About a Cure for Breast Cancer

Updated on May 1, 2014

Heartfelt retelling on an in-depth, factual background about the development of breast cancer treatments

5 stars for Living Proof, starring Harry Connick Jr.

In the not-so-distant past, a diagnosis of breast cancer meant the beginning of a torturous chemotherapy regimen, most likely major surgery, and still almost certain death. Thousands of women died slowly and painfully every year with a disease that had no real treatment, and certainly no real hope for a cure.

Throughout the 1990s, Dr. Dennis Slamon fought an unending battle for funding to research what many colleagues considered to be a crackpot notion – that it was possible to “turn off” cancer and halt the growth of tumors. What he discovered not only stopped tumor progression, it actually shrank them and made many disappear. Despite these promising lab tests, Dr. Slamon had years of struggle just to get his discovery into clinical trials – with a drug that became known as Herceptin, or Her-2.

Living Proof
Living Proof
The reviewed movie, with an awesome retelling of the life of Dr. Dennis Slamon starring Harry Connick, Jr.

About the movie Living Proof

In 2008, My Lifetime released the dramatization of the struggles Dr. Slamon (played by Harry Connick, Jr) faced, beginning with the point in his research that he knew his drug would work, and ending years later when it finally passed Phase III clinical trials and FDA approval. The movie takes a closer look at a sampling of women whose lives were turned upside-down by cancer, and many for whom Herceptin trials and approval came too late. In the decade between the approval of Herceptin and the release of this dramatization of its story, the drug had already saved the lives of nearly half a million women.

Other than being based on a true story – which is always a great plus in movies – the first thing that really stands out is the cast. The main characters – including Harry Connick, Jr, Bruce McKinnon, and Amanda Bynes – feature veterans of the big screen, as well as a smattering of unknowns who make perfectly believable everyday people. The supporting roles, however, were filled by some of the better-known women in show business and include Jennifer Coolidge, Bernadette Peters, Swoosie Curtz, Amy Madigan, and more. Though the script allowed for little character development, focusing instead on the story, their talents were certainly not wasted in this deeply emotional tale.

Not sure if Living Proof is a movie for you? Check out this behind the scenes look

Ready for a REAL sob story? It's true and has a feel-good ending, even

Despite the shallower characters, the most important thing to remember with this movie is a big box of tissues. So many people have been affected by breast cancer -- either through personal experience or the affliction of a loved one – that it is very easy to relate to the women depicted. As the story unfolds, it sends viewers on an emotional roller-coaster. One scene may describe a woman who died just as the treatment that could cure her was made available, the very next a woman who was on the brink of death and was completely cured, immediately followed by yet another who died young because she didn’t qualify to go to the next phase of clinical trials.

Here, as they say, is the rest of the story...

Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer
Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer
Love the movie, or love the story and would rather read about it? Here's the book that tells the same story, but with greater detail and greater opportunity for imagination.

Throughout the entire tale, Harry Connick, Jr, plays out the conflict of a caring doctor to perfection. A good doctor wants nothing more than to help people, but a good researcher must conduct himself within the guidelines of the FDA in order to be able to help people, regardless of what it means for people along the way. His sacrifices on both a personal and professional level add an extra dimension to an otherwise already inspirational – as well as heart-rending – story.

The story line itself had some hiccups – pacing issues, rushing through certain parts of the story at the expense of dramatic flair, and other similar problems. However, it is probably understandable when one takes into account the many years encompassed within the story, and all the different facets that had to fall into place in order for it to happen. While it’s not exactly a box-office hit, the purpose of the movie is definitely achieved – it tells a story, even if the script and time limitations don’t allow for a seamless telling.

Should you see Living Proof?

Overall, this is an excellent film for greater breast cancer awareness, and for filling in viewers on a pivotal point in breast cancer research history. This film serves as a powerful tool in aiding ongoing efforts to make the general public aware of the full impact of this disease, as well as what can happen when people band together and work toward a cure. It's also a great look into research and development in the pharmaceutical industry, clearly explaining why it's so difficult to move forward in the prescription drug world. Whether you're interested in the story of Her-2 or simply want a movie that truly can make you laugh, cry, and maybe even enjoy being part of humanity a little bit more, then this is a definite movie to check out.

Thank you for reading my hub! I hope this review has been helpful to you. Have you already seen the movie? Please take a moment to comment below about what you thought of the story, or let us know if you've read the book. The more opinions, the better.


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    • supercibor profile image

      Hector Herrera 

      9 years ago from Dominican Republic

      I found your review very interesting and I will be waiting to see this movie as soon is in my neighborhood.

      Congratulations for the great hub


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