39 Pounds Of Love

"Very Good"

39 Pounds Of Love Review


When you don't have a congenital disease and go about your daily life, it's easy to get caught up on little problems. And just when you're about to get grumpy from sloshing your pants walking through a puddle, you take a glimpse beside you and see someone gliding down the sidewalk in a wheelchair, possibly talking excitedly with a helping companion. That couple of seconds pushes an internal reset button, makes the dirt you just acquired on your clothing meaningless.

A similar shift takes place when watching 39 Pounds of Love, as we watch the central subject, Ami Ankilewitz, live out a dream to travel through the United States and track down the doctor who said he wouldn't live past six years of age, 33 years ago. Ami suffers from debilitating muscular dystrophy, speaks through a microphone, only has use of one finger on his left hand, and as the title suggests, weighs 39 pounds. As he depends on those around him to wash, eat, and move, he manages to keep up a jolly sense of humor and strong connections with people who look up to his stubborn dreams.

The disadvantages of his situation particularly strike home when he confesses his love for his beautiful caretaker, Cristina. As she describes her cares for him, she notes that being lovers can't really happen and is asked to leave. While Ami lives a full life for someone who cannot take care of himself, there are some boundaries he will simply never be able to cross.

That being said, after much argument, Ami takes his trip from his native Israel to America, from California to Texas, pursuing an adventure in a rented van with a small band of supporters to live up to wishful whims despite cautious warnings that his health won't hold up. His intention to live each day to its fullest is inspirational as he simply states what he wants to do, must do, and why.

39 Pounds does suffer from some of the repetitive talking head syndrome of many documentaries. To break this up is some incredible animation, created by Ami himself, that parallels his heart and journey. It brings to mind how much people can adapt and accomplish under difficult circumstances, just realizing these film clips were made by a single useful finger. Still, while it's poignant to watch Ami fight to get where he wants to go, repeatedly hearing about his struggles and others' concern for his welfare gets a little old because it's actually shown first hand already.

Some of the dialogue also feels manipulated to bring across specific points, such as the judgment of those who happen to pass his way. But Ami himself remains an uncomplaining center of strength, someone to respect because of what he tries and not because of his defects. Against the flaws of filmmaking, just as Ami is fighting his physical odds, 39 Pounds achieves something quietly powerful in its effort to profile an admirable personality.



39 Pounds Of Love

Facts and Figures

Run time: 70 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th April 2005

Production compaines: HBO/Cinemax Documentary, Hey Jude Productions, Priddy Brothers Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Dani Menkin

Producer: Daniel J. Chalfen, Dani Menkin, Marek Rosenbaum

Starring: Ami Ankilewitz as Himself

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