This is a terrific biopic done for HBO that has a lot of fine acting (a tour de force for Al Pacino), nuanced scenes and humor amid the seriousness that surrounds Jack Kevorkian’s mission of providing “medical services” to terminally ill patients.
I must admit it paints a detailed, sympathetic portrait of an intelligent, driven and passionate man who goes well beyond the call of his medical professional duty in fighting his battles to let people die with dignity. Some of the courtroom scenes do become pretty hilarious as Kevorkian attempts to defend himself (he eventually served almost 8 years in prison) from serious charges using some dramatic antics and unusual banter with the judges.
Excellent performances by Susan Sarandon (a Hemlock Society member), Brenda Vaccaro (his sister Janet), Danny Huston (his attorney) and others along with newsreel footage, interview snippets with patients bring this documentary vividly to life.
Wherever you stand on the issues of euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide, this film adds substance to the view of the life of a doctor who became known only as “Dr. Death” and was often the punchline to cruel quips and jokes. Watch this Barry Levinson-directed film and you definitely will know Jack!