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First Do No Harm

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Jim Abrahams

In this alternately heartbreaking and uplifting drama inspired by actual events, a small town Midwest family discovers that their youngest son suffers from epilepsy. Left without hope after their insurance runs out, the mother presses on, studies everything … see full wiki

Director: Jim Abrahams
Release Date: 1997
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about First Do No Harm

First Do No Harm - 1997

  • Oct 27, 2008
Pros: ...

Cons: ...

The Bottom Line:
"I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need"

I find myself watching way more ‘based on true events' movies than I care to think about. Since I know little about the actual events in most of these things, well, truthfully, nothing about the actual events since all I know is what I've read, I really don't know how accurate these stories are. However, from each one I take away a little bit more of information about how this thing we call ‘humans' works and interacts with each other.

With First Do No Harm, we have people with all the good intentions in the world but they are quite enough to offer the solace and peace that this family wants for the heath and well being of their child. Meryl Streep plays the mother in this movie and she is hell bent for leather to find a cure for her son, Robbie, who suffers from epilepsy. In the beginning he seems happy and well but soon starts having seizures. His seizures run a gamut of differences from small to outstanding or grand mal as most of us associate with in terms.

Although he is given a variety of drugs, nothing seems to combat his illness. Finally, in desperation, mom Lori starts investigating on her own and discovers a new procedure; the Ketogenic diet. While his main physicians fight her through every step of his treatment, Lori is determined to find a cure for her ailing son.

Now this brings me to the crux of the story; patient interaction with the medical field. As a patient, a layman, I really know nothing beyond the rudimentary things about medicine. Therefore, like most, I take what my doctor tells me as gospel. He's/she's the educated one and knows what they are talking about. However, they are also humans and, in that, they have there own agendas and failings.

At one point in my life I would have never considered speaking out to a doctor, or even question medication prescribed. However with the onset of so much data available to all of us anymore, we have learned we have the right to demand an explanation and expect to be treated with some dignity. I thought this movie followed a wonderful avenue of discussion as Lori and her husband struck out on their own, despite the doctors orders, to find help for Robbie.

Of course, other factors worked against this family as well. Incredible health care costs, no insurance, home repossessed, failing family unit; all are casualties of an extended illness. Treatment by the surrounding community is another sore point for me, how people avoid you when there is medical trouble just so ‘they don't catch something'.

I thought all participants in the movie did an outstanding job of portrayal, especially young Seth Adkins as Robbie. Meryl Streep and Fred Ward, as his parents, were steadfast and held wonderful characterization. I also thought they gave a good deal of medical information in the movie without it becoming so bogged down in terminology that the layman couldn't understand what was happening. It was also interesting to see the investigation and treatment used in alternative medical practices.

Allison Janney portrayed Robbie's doctor that fought the Ketogenic treatment. It wasn't that she was right or wrong, just unwilling to bend a little. She, like most physicians, wanted to stay with the tried and true methods of treatment using drugs instead of looking forward to alternative methods.

Overall I enjoyed this movie immensely. It was directed by Jim Abrahams; written by Ann Beckett. It was nominated for 7 awards, winning two. It carries a PG-13 rating for emotionality and some of the scenes with Robbie.


This movie is my submission to the Good Movies Write-Off 2, hosted by captaind


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