Film Review – Lorenzo’s Oil In the beginning of the film, we meet Lorenzo Odone. He is the incredibly smart and energetic son of Augusto, an Italian, and Michaela, a fiery redheaded American. When the Odone family returns to the US, Lorenzo began showing signs of ALD. This rare disease has no cure, but Lorenzo’s parents were determined to find one. While studying and learning all they could, the Odone’s reviewed all kinds of medical journals and reports. They elicited the help of scientists and even held a symposium with doctors all over the world in an attempt to find a cure.
After many hours of research and the aid of scientists, the Odone’s were able to develop Lorenzo’s Oil. If this were not a true story, I would try to draw some symbolism between the Lorenzo’s oil and the oil used in many religious ceremonies. During an argument between Michaela and Augusto, we learn that Michaela refused to attend church once Lorenzo could no longer go. She did not think it was fair for her to enjoy life when he could not. It seemed as if taking care of her son had replaced her religion.
Both of the Odone parents processed ideas in different ways and this proved to be an asset when they were working together. Financially, they were well off, and when Lorenzo first became ill, they had no mortgages on their home. They were able to travel with Augusto’s job at the bank, and mirrored their methods of studying new places when researching ALD. In the end, their finances were dwindled and they had two mortgages to pay while Augusto was challenged to go to work when what he really wanted to do was study ALD in hopes of finding a cure.
Identifying with the characters of Michaela and Augusto was somewhat hard. Culturally they were from a different background than I, and sometimes they seemed arrogant. Wendy Gimble was the character I identified with the most. She was doing the best she could for her boys. Unable to research the way Michaela and Augusto could did not stop her from supporting them and standing up for what was right. Conversely, the second nurse made me angry. She was trained by Michaela and should have been grateful. When she began eeling as if Lorenzo was a lost cause, she should have found a replacement and sought new employment elsewhere. I want to think I am unbiased with my thoughts toward the nurse and Wendy. I know this is not true. My father was cared for in my home for a long time. Some of the caregivers that came to our home were cold while others were kind and warm. When tending to a patient, it is important to remember the family is affected by our actions just as much as the patient is. The families of the ALD children were in desperate need of care.
Because of this, they demonstrated the highest of respect toward their doctors. It took a while, but a few parents began to realize that their children were being treated as a case study while time was running out. Some of the families were enraged while others wanted to continue as they were told. These same families were the ones that were skeptical of outside medicine. A point did come when they were willing to try anything to save their children. I believe the benefits of modern medicine are wonderful. Many illnesses can be fought off with advances that have been made throughout history.
My grandparents were of a different mindset. My grandmother refused to see physicians. She believed that going to a doctor or hospital was admitting you did not have enough faith that God could heal. For years, she would wake up early needing to change her linens due to a giant bleeding ulcer on her back. Her cultural view was definitely different from my own. I do not think this film has changed any of my views. While watching this film, I was encouraged. Seeing how much Michaela and Augusto studied helps me to realize that I need to be accountable for my health and that of my children.
I cannot just hope that my doctor is able to cure everything within my fifteen-minute appointment window. I am also reminded that serving patients and their families in the Ambulatory Health Care Setting requires me to be mindful of the needs of the patient and family. This film ends with Lorenzo showing signs of improvement. He is fourteen and able to swallow and answer questions by blinking. In real life, Lorenzo lived to be thirty years old. This was 20 years longer than expected. He even out lived his mother who died of lung cancer in 2008.