Tuesday, November 27, 2012

EUFF Review: Stopped on Track

Frank and Simone Lange (Milan Preschel and Steffi Kuhnert) sit in a doctor's office as the doctor plainly describes that Frank headaches over the last few month are due to a brain tumour. The couple are shown brain images and the doctor explains that because of the location, and size of the tumour, surgery is not an option. Their next decision is on how and when to tell their 14 year old daughter Lilli (Taslisa Lili Lemke) and 8 year old son Mika (Mika Nilson Seidel) that their father only has a couple of months to live.

At first Frank continues to go to work at the plant and all seems relatively well. One night as the family is around the dinner table Frank seeing his family together and happy becomes distraught and Simone tells her children that their father is not well. The family takes an overnight trip to a water park that starts out fine until Frank goes missing in the middle of the night to be found by his kids lying on the ground near a garden unable to get back to their sleeping quarters. Next we see Frank as he becomes violently ill in the car on the way home.

Frank begins to use his iPhone as a tool to discuss and record the changes that are occurring to him and the reactions of people around him. He even sees the tumour as separate entity, a kind of conjoined twin that is sharing his life. The Radiation and Chemotherapy treatments serve to make Frank weaker as he takes to using a cane. Soon he is forgetting where certain rooms are in the house and when his parents come to visit they are devastated by his appearance.

As the family have opted for home-care the strain on Simone is immense. She drinks quite often while at home and her only relief comes when she goes out to work as a tram driver. The kids are also involved, to different degrees, in the home care and help their father to get around.

After a very violent seizure leaves Frank bedridden, their palliative care aid begins to brief Simone on what she should expect from here on in. This includes why her children will need to be there at the end for their well being. Family and friends each react in their own way to Frank's decreasing condition. Some are able to face it head on, while others cannot even come to the home to see him.

A multi award winning and sought after festival circuit film Stopped on Track is a very powerful drama. Frank downward trajectory from a healthy family man to a bed ridden helpless individual is detailed step by step on film. Starting with increased difficulty with everyday activities, memory loss, loss of motor skills, fits of rage, crying spells and eventually quiet and peaceful. All of the main cast turn in excellent performances. Especially poignant is the increased involvement of his children in his hands on care as he deteriorates. Stopped on Track is a film that I can highly recommend.

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