*A guest review today, from Nick Schager, of Slant Magazine
Four grown-up siblings reunite to take care of their ovarian cancer-stricken mother during her dying days in Two Weeks, a melodrama that, while partially based on the life of writer/director Steve Stockman, nonetheless frequently exhibits a startling ignorance about normative human behavior. Making his feature directorial debut, Stockman approaches his downbeat material with equal measures of somberness and levity, the latter supposedly aimed at replicating the way in which people use wisecracks and sarcasm as a defense mechanism – an emotional barricade – against wellsprings of pain and misery. It's a reasonable aim, yet one that requires a lighter touch than the first-time filmmaker possesses, the result being an awkward hybrid of earnest weepiness and bouncy lightheartedness that's further undermined by numerous scenes that come across as divorced from any sense of recognizable reality.
Wasting away in the North Carolina home she shares with second husband Jim (James Murtaugh), Anita (Sally Field) gets to share her final two weeks with her quartet of kids, a motley bunch of "types" who each boast one distinctive trait. Keith (Ben Chaplin) is a Hollywood filmmaker whose life is guided by a "one day at a time" Zen philosophy, and who has never cried in front of his wife; Barry (Thomas Cavanagh) is a businessman who thinks cleaning up after mom – who does a lot of puking into a bedpan – is icky; Matthew (Glenn Howerton) is the youngest child, and thus feels bossed around and disrespected; and Emily (Julianne Nicholson) is the devoted daughter whose method of dealing with her mother's impending demise is to read every one of her local library's self-help books.