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  • Writer's pictureNishant Mittal

You don't know jack: The definition of legacy (movie celebration)

There are movies which you really enjoy. They feel worth your time and leave a lasting impression. Those are great. But then there are some which go far beyond and make you thank the very existence of cinema itself. 'You don't know jack' belongs to that class.

If not for cinema, I wouldn't have known about this story. And that would have been such a shame.

For perspective, I've watched 19 films in 2021 so far, and many of them were amazing. But there was something about this one that forced me to write an article for you. Was it Barry Levinson's directorial sincerity? Al Pacino's performance stumbling its way into brilliance? John Goodman's ever so-great-presence? I don't know. Maybe it was the fact that this was an incredible story and I didn't expect it to be so "real" and moving. The fact that it was a biopic shook me harder. People like this exist! So incredible. So inspiring!

'You don't know jack' traces the story of Dr. Jack Kevorkian and how he pioneered "doctor assisted suicide". It's a procedure which could lead to a painless death for a terminally ill patient who doesn't want to suffer anymore. Dr. Kevorkian fought for the "right to die with dignity" for people who're still in a position to make that decision for themselves. He provided this "service" only to the ones who had no hopes of alleviating their pain through any available medical treatments of the world. In other words, he didn't help manic depressives escape their problem. Dr. Kevorkian provided "relief", only to the ones who were sure to wither into a slow and unimaginably painful death. He saved them.

This is different from euthanasia as that deals with guardians making this decision for a patient who's in a vegetative state. Euthanasia has been legal for a long time, but "doctor assisted suicide" is not. This was what Dr. Jack dedicated his life to; right to die.

It's okay for others to decide if I can die, but not me. Even when I'm suffering beyond imagination and there's no hope for a cure. How's that fair?

This story is so full of heart and yet so contradicted with uncharacteristic nonchalance of the protagonist, that you may just forget about The Fountainhead. It not only epitomises conviction and fortitude, but also "heroism" in the true sense of the word. What's heroism if not making real sacrifices for a cause you truly believe in? Dr. Jack truly did. Hats off!

The movie's story is beyond beautiful and "unusual", and it's best you just watch it. But a great story is only a small part of cinema. It's just the beginning. This is where credits to Mr. Barry Levinson should begin. I've always been a fan of his direction. 'Rain Man' was beautiful, and 'Sleepers' is one of my favourite films of all time. But what I think separates Mr. Levinson from the other great directors of our time is how he's so beautifully and uniquely subtle. There's a darkness in his characters which comes out, but in a singularly "realistic" way. Everything is simple, yet complicated. Beautiful, but imperfect. Just like life. He's in a class of his own and despite his achievements, I feel he's very underrated. Infinite respect.

Coming to performances, Al Pacino, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Brenda Vaccardo have all done splendid work. Special mention to Danny Huston, who shined in his beautifully written character. What's noteworthy is that even the small, blink and miss performances by character actors are beautiful (the now famous Adam Driver gave one of them). I'm a huge fan of Pacino and Goodman, but they honestly dissolved themselves in their roles. It was surreal to watch them do it.

The cinematography, editing, sound are great. Though I think the background score left some opportunities to shine. Perhaps it was a conscious choice of Mr. Levinson to make it subtle, but as a musician, I felt there was scope for some magic in there. Not that it took anything away from the movie, though.

Beautiful film! Please watch. This is a historically relevant work of art.

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