Fellow Movie Lovers
Over thirty years ago a close friend of mine was diagnosed with scleroderma (a debilitating connective tissue disease that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles and internal organs); she was given approximately six years to live; the younger of her two sons was six months old.
As I watched this, not extraordinary, but well intentioned film I questioned why some are fated to overcome insurmountable obstacles for the betterment of mankind, while others are felled. My friend and John Crowley, heroes created by unwanted circumstances.
John Crowley is blessed with a staggering intellect. He attended the U.S. Navel Academy at Annapolis, received a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a law degree from Notre Dame, an MBA from Harvard. He and his wife Aileen have three children, two cursed with Pompe disease, a severe neuromuscular disorder, which manifests itself like the worst combination of cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy; with a life expectancy of five years. It is a disease so rare that there are less than six thousand cases in the world.
Extraordinary Measures focuses on John Crowley’s herculean efforts to find a cure, an enzyme, to save his and other children’s lives. Brendan Fraser gives a credible and passionate performance as John Crowley; Keri Russell, an actress of fathomless sensitivity, is Aileen Crowley; Meredith Droeger as Megan Crowley is enchanting in her depiction of a child so thirsting to survive and desperately struggling to live and play as her peers; her presence provided the flawless moments in the film.
Harrison Ford (also a co-producer) as the cantankerous, irascible, and brilliant research scientist Dr. Robert Stonehill, I found problematic, and after some research discovered that in actuality he is fictional; a composite of all the doctors and researchers Crowley dealt with over the years. There was something missing; as fine an actor as he is, there was a lack of conviction in his characterization.
The movie entertains with the friction between the experimental and empirical world of science and the bottom line decisiveness of the financial world; always a tenuous marriage; divorce, a ubiquitous specter lurking in the shadows.
Extraordinary Measures is not a great film but it succeeds in awakening the audience to the greatness of one individual. John Crowley (presently 43 years old) and my friend are monuments to the power of one. One person with boundless fortitude and tenacity can alter the universe.
TWO & ½ STARS