TERMS OF ENDEARMENT: MOVIE REVIEW
Terms of Endearment is the only film about cancer that I've ever heard of, so even though it was made in the 80's and stars Shirley MacLaine, I decided to rent it. It was only available on videotape.
The two main characters are a mother and her daughter, and the first half of the film focuses on their love lives. Shirley MacLaine plays a bitter and lonely older woman who is bickering with her neighbor, Jack Nicholson (They eventually ball.), while Deborah Winger plays her daughter, who is struggling as a young mother trying to raise a bunch of kids, and who becomes disillusioned in her marriage and has an affair.
There was no mention of cancer for two-thirds of the movie and I was beginning to wonder if I had misunderstood the story, until, an hour and a half into it, the daughter finds a lump under her arm. She dismisses it at first, but after urging from her family, decides to go to the doctor. When she does, she is diagnosed with breast cancer.
While most cancer patients come to see their doctors once a month, and spend the rest of the time at home, going to work, and living "normal" lives, she almost immediately winds up in the hospital, lying Victorian-like on a hospital bed, never to rise again.
She does not lose her hair (from chemo), need oxygen, vomit all of her food, cry in pain when the opiates don't do anything, or get pissed off at the world and Shirley. She lies in bed, pleasantly chats, and raises one arm to lovingly mess up her kid's hair. It seems the only thing that she can't do is lift her head or talk in a strong voice.
There are only about 15 minutes from her diagnosis to her death, which, of course, is also a farce. Shirley and Deborah's husband are sitting in the hospital room (way too homey, beautifully decorated, and private), when the nurse comes in, feels her pulse and says, "She's passed." Then they have a funeral and get over it.
This movie has nothing to do with the real experiences of people with cancer and their caregivers. Don't bother.