ACT OF LOVE
US, 1981, 96 minutes, Colour.
Ron Howard, Mickey Rourke, David Spielberg, Jacqueline Brookes.
Directed by Jud Taylor.
Act of Love is a telemovie which raises questions about illness, helplessness, mercy killing, responsibilities, ethics, morality and the law.
The film focuses on a Polish- American Catholic family, two sons played by Mickey Rourke and Ron Howard, where one son is a paraplegic through an accident and asks the other to kill him. There is a court case and the lawyer, played by Robert Foxworth, has the dilemma of beliefs and the law.
The film argues the case from a human point of view, the emotions, conscience and the law. It is interesting as a drama, provocative for reflection.
1. The impact of this telemovie? the focus on family, mercy killing, ethics and the law?
2. The treatment of the theme for the wide television audience? Emotions, human drama, conscience issues, the law? Accessible for a wide audience?
3. The portrait of the family, the farm? Hospitals? The courts? The authenticity of the atmosphere, the situation? The title and theme?
4. Audience identification with the family~ with the brothers? Their Polish background, Catholicism? Stances, crises, conscience, giving their word?
5. Leon and Joseph, the bonds between the two, the past, memories, girlfriends, marriage, their father and his death, their mother and the hard work, the work, the fields, painting? The spirit of the family?
6. Joseph and his family, his bonds with them, with Leon, problems at the farm, walking and talking with Leon, sharing? His son? The bike, the ride and its exhilaration, the accident? His pain? His wanting to die? The doctors and their diagnoses, his plea, the encounter with Leon, their talk, preparation for death? An act o± love?
7. Leon, in the family, in himself, at home, relationship with Joseph? The accident and his response? Feeling hurt? The doctors and the truth? Joseph's plea? His decision, preparing the gun, the women in the house, going to the hospital? Shooting Joseph? Saying 'God bless you'? The women in the house and their attitude? His mother? The talks with the lawyer, his stances, giving his word? His love, conscience, willing to do it again? His being freed? His saying that the lawyer did the same for him as he did for Joseph?
8. The lawyer, his background, assistant, taking the case, moral questions, the doctor's advice, psychology, interrogating all the family, learning about them, the possibilities for defence, the plea and the act of love, the effect of Leon's being freed?
9. The portrait of the family: the mother and her place, her influence on her sons, the interrogation by the lawyer? The sister-in-law, the friend, Joseph's son?
10. A credible situation? Made plausible? The theme that Joseph might have died of his injuries? Extraordinary means for life support? The plea and Joseph’s mental condition? Shooting as a violent act? The ethics of mercy killing?
11. The portrayal of the issues: at the level of intellect, conscience, emotions, ethical and moral judgments, the judgment of the law?