Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Die in Oregon

How to Die in Oregon

How to Die in Oregon is an HBO documentary about the "Death with Dignity" law in that state. Unfortunately this territory has been covered quite a bit in recent years in film, including HBO's recent film on Dr. Kevorkian. If this movie had been made three or four years earlier, it would have been ground-breaking, but now, it just seems a little on the long side. I also had some problems with the film's structure. 

The film opens nicely with a very moving scene of a man taking his medications to die with his family, and speaking quite well about why this was the right choice for him. Unfortunately, the film meanders quite a bit in its remaining time. There is one main story about a woman who is going through liver cancer that feels like it takes up a third of the running time of the film, but it is mostly stacked in the last half, which makes the film seem like it grinds to a halt after so many shorter interviews. She should have been introduced early on, with her story better interspersed throughout. 

Also there is not much representation of an opposing viewpoint. There is only one man (who is also dying) who speaks against it, but he gets two very short clips, and his argument is incoherent and not based on the usual moral grounds. His clip is also late in the film, long after most audience members would have already decided that the film is on the side of assisted death. If this film really wanted to convince nay-sayers, they needed to address the philosophical arguments as well. 

However, this film is still worth watching if you have any interest in this subject.
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