For some strange and unknown reason, four different countries entered films this year that deal with women dying of cancer. Aida from Morocco is about a Jewish music teacher from Paris who returns to Morocco to inspire her childhood sweetheart, now a married architect, to rediscover his love of music. Go Away Mr. Tumor from China is a cloying portrayal of a bubbly 29-year-old who falls in love with her doctor and inspires him to be less severe and to enjoy the good aspects of life despite his immersion in the sad aspects.
More interesting is Our Everyday Life from Bosnia-Herzegovina. At first this film, directed by documentary maker Ines Tanović, appears to be another entry in the dysfunctional family genre. Father Muhamed is disgusted because he is being booted out as CEO of the company he created, and he takes out his dissatisfaction on his family members. His 40-year-old son, Saša, lives at home and appears to be a slacker. Daughter Seneda lives in Berlin, unmarried and pregnant. As the film opens, her biker boyfriend is about to leave on a road trip with his buddies. Mother Marija, a retired teacher, is the stable force in the family. When she is diagnosed with cancer, it turns out that the family isn’t so dysfunctional after all—a nice twist to a tired genre.
And then there’s Home Care, the most powerful of this women-with-terminal-cancer collection. Vlasta (Alena Mihulová) is a small-town nurse who devotes her life to visiting her elderly patients at their homes. She also takes care of her husband, alcoholic but upbeat Láda. And she wishes their daughter would get married and be less angry. But then Vlasta is diagnosed with cancer. Because the medical profession gives up on her, she sets aside her professional skepticism and turns to Hanáčková, the daughter of one of her patients, who believes that diseases are caused by emotional problems and can be ameliorated by concentrating on positive energy. Let’s just say that this path takes an unexpected turn for which Vlasta is not prepared.
For the record, a fifth entry, Cloudy Times, the first ever from Paraguay, is a documentary about the filmmaker dealing with her mother’s gradual descent towards a death caused by Parkinson’s disease.