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BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN | Donald is a teenager with striking artistic talent. Most of his graphic drawings depict a mysterious superhero who fights various evil villains. These ink fantasies fill his books, cover the occasional city wall and increasingly preoccupy his thoughts.
Death of a Superhero
Directed by Ian Fitzgibbon
Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Runtime: 94 Minute
Fri. 4/27, 3pm & Sat. 4/28, 7:30pm
at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea
and Sun. 4/29, 1pm at AMC Loews Village
For tickets and info, visit tribecafilm.com or call 646-502-5296.
We soon learn why fiction and reality frequently blur in Donald’s world — and why he’s raging with anger. Having been diagnosed with cancer, Donald has long realized that he is doomed (although his parents are still fighting for a glimpse of optimism). Outraged and frightened by the fact that he has no control over his life, and by the fact that he will never be able to experience adulthood, Donald seeks refuge in cynicism. “Life is nothing but a sexually transmitted disease that always ends with death,” he announces to his psychologist (who was hired by his desperate parents to stop him from suicide).
An extraordinary study of helplessness, the film quickly makes us understand that Donald is right. He will not win his fight against cancer. The challenge is to make him understand that the little amount of time he has left is precious. Life is life, no matter how long it lasts, and it surely needs living. Tides turn for Donald when he meets a girl in school, who does not approach him like a victim but rather as someone she finds attractive. He falls in love — and though he has to pass several hurdles to keep her close, Donald finally finds a reason to be thankful.
An exceptional film stylistically, and in its ability to tell a sad story without relying on clichés, “Death of a Superhero” infuses beautifully rendered animated fantasy sequences into a realistic storyline.
Donald’s anger initially provokes both empathy and criticism. Yes, we can understand his devastation — yet we cannot help but judge his many outbursts, especially when they destroy things or hurt the people who love him. Rather than siding with him from the start, we get to know him slowly. As we come to understand his fears, we find ourselves rooting for him wholeheartedly.