Lorenzo’s Oil Blu-ray Review: We Leave Science to Its Own Concerns

George Miller’s Lorenzo’s Oil is for a limited audience: those who want to watch a child suffer horrifically for two hours and fifteen minutes. It is about a couple who will do anything to save their dying child, Lorenzo (Zach O’Malley Greenberg). He is a cheerful six-year-old when he begins acting out in school. He will start to scream for no reason and sometimes his words are hard to understand. He is diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) which is usually fatal within two years. At the time of the making of the movie, ALD was only prevalent in boys aged five to ten. The disease progresses rapidly, and most young boys with ALD slowly become mute, deaf, and paralyzed before dying. The disease is passed on only by the mother which causes unnecessary guilt.

Buy Lorenzo’s Oil Blu-ray

The acting throughout is fine. Susan Sarandon plays the mother, Michaela Odone, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She plays two notes in the movie: stoic crying and stoic yelling. Nick Nolte, on the other hand, has a very odd Italian accent. While he is playing a real person, Augusto Odone, he constantly whispers in a high tone. He is like Gepetto on helium. Luckily, this accent gets better as the movie goes on. Or, the viewer gets used to it. It’s hard to tell. Peter Ustinov is Professor Gus Nikolais, and his role is to put the brakes on any promising new medication, technology, or ideas. He is a good man, but he happens to believe in rules and regulations.

The scientific parts of the disease – the parts we will need to understand for there to be any forward narrative – are given to us in easy-to-digest capsules every 20 minutes or so as they are needed. There are those in the movie who want to trust science to slowly wend its way through the disease and come up with a cure. But the Odone’s, of course, are in a hurry to save their son and begin unauthorized treatments involving extra virgin olive oil and rapeseed oil (Lorenzo’s Oil). The Odone’s were very much involved with the research that went into discovering the oil that slows, and apparently, sometimes stops the progression of the disease.

Lorenzo’s Oil isn’t for everyone. But, ultimately, it is a feel good story, and the smiles on the faces of the young boys who were given Lorenzo’s Oil in time to stall their symptoms are worth the time and fortitude it takes to get through the movie. 

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian and Critic Peter Tonguette
  • Theatrical Trailer
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Greg Hammond

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