Hot Docs 2015: A Woman Like Me (2015) ★★★★


Reviewing a non-fiction film is not as easy as reviewing a fiction one. Like it or not, it`s a human`s life. If for some reason someone dislikes it that does mean the person who breathes his life into particular documentary film does not deserve our attention. Talking about breathing a life into something makes me ask you, my dearest reader, and one simple question: what would you do if you knew that you did not have not much time left?  I assume, if you were a writer – you would write a book about your life; or if you were a painter – then you would use this chance to paint one last painting. These things would make your family have heavy hearts, but with a smile in their eyes remember how wonderful and thoughtful you were. A filmmaker, Alex Sichel finds out she has terminal breast cancer. She does the same thing a painter or writer would do – she walks into her mind, imagines herself how she would have lived or experienced the toughest time of her life through an art and image that captivates the viewer right from the beginning…

If you don`t know the story of Alex Sichel, then you most certainly will not be prepared for what you are about to see. When Alex Sichel finds out about her terminal illness, and that she may not have much time to enjoy her loved ones as much as she wanted, she does what an artistic person would do – she recreates her image in her own film, where Lili Taylor plays her part as if Taylor were Chiel herself. As the documentary progresses, we come to know more details of Sichel. Even though she goes to chemotherapy, she seems more open to a natural, or spiritual, treatment that may help her release herself from the negativity that is brought upon by the illness.

While we watch the film, we no longer see Sichel happy, but we see her trying to make peace with herself and accept her soon to come departure.  A Woman Like Me is a brilliant docudrama where Chiel directs Taylor to play the other version of herself, where we, with saddened hearts, realize that it is never easy to for the one who is about to die to handle the situation; life is too sweet to leave so soon, isn’t, it? I am not sure if I would be able to fully express what I think about this documentary film, but I am certain of one thing, after seeing this, you will better understand anyone who has a problem with their health and perhaps be a bit more patient with them in the future.

In the end, Alex Sichel manages to show us that it does not matter how strong a human being can be as they try to find peace with an  irreversible reality, it is never easy to get ready to die; it`s never easy to give up the idea that you can fight till the end; the hope that you may get your cure at the last minute, your happy ending – the ending that will allow you to enjoy your family as much as you want, as long as your heart keeps beating… But unfortunately, in Sichel `s case, there was no heart, only cruel cancer, that left her hopeless and beaten, but never forgotten. I am thankful to her for leaving us her legacy in a film, where one day a dying writer will be inspired enough to write his heartwarming and astonishing memoir, a painter will leave his last drawing of images of the life he will never be able to live, or a musician, who will compose a beautiful, sad, and touching song, that will make us cry the way Sichel `s A Woman Like Me did.

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