Ways to live forever
(PG) Eagle DVD
Sam (Robbie Kay) is twelve years old, collects fantastic facts, wants to be a scientist – and is dying of leukaemia.
We enter Sam’s world via his written and video diaries – the creations through which he hopes to live forever. The diaries feature two lists which help structure the film. Questions no-one answers; including “Why do people have to die?” and “Things I want to do before I die” (go up a down an escalator. break a world record, be a teenager, smoke, drink and have girlfriends).
Sam’s relationships with friends and family are interwoven with his diary entries. His bond with fellow cancer sufferer Felix (Alex Etel) lies at the heart of the film while family scenes focus on Sam’s anguished parents (Emilia Fox and Ben Chaplin).
The movie avoids mawkishness, largely through the wry humour with which Sam and Felix typically confront their illness. Sam’s fantastic facts (ranging from world records to funeral customs) are illustrated by exquisite rod puppet theatre-style animations, evoking a magical sense of child-like wonder.
There are occasional false notes and heavy touches but overall the film is well-crafted, intelligent and restrained.