The Austin Chronicle

Dying Young

Rated R, 114 min. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Julia Roberts, Campbell Scott, Vincent D'Onofrio, Colleen Dewhurst, David Selby, Ellen Burstyn.

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., June 28, 1991

From Dark Victory to Love Story, the incurable disease has nourished film romance -- the body may be weak, but the heart is always willing. In Dying Young, death agains waits in the wings while love blooms. As played by Scott and Roberts, they make an engaging pair of lovers, almost too beautiful to be true. (In these movies, only the good-looking or rich die young.) As in most films of this type, illness is romanticized to the degree that its horror is more theoretical than real. Schumacher's direction is from the Adrian Lyne School of filmmaking: everything's either tinted with an ethereal, golden glow or backlit for an elegantly dramatic effect. So why does Dying Young work despite its superficialities? Aside from the unmistakable appeal of its two leads, it's probably due to the film's understated approach to its subject. Don't expect any over-the-top, four-handkerchief deathbed histrionics here. And, more important, Dying Young ultimately succeeds because it embodies that secret hope that most of us so desperately want to believe in: love can conquer all, even death.

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