Lorenzo's Oil

Sitting down to watch a movie is an excellent way to relax and unwind. You can laugh, cry, be terrorised, scared, inspired and can ride an emotional rollercoaster, all without leaving the comfort of your sofa. But films that are inspired by true events are always that little more special. Lorenzo’s Oil is based in a true story. It is a powerful and emotional family drama about the power of the human spirit and the lengths a parent will go to save their child.

Lorenzo’s Oil is a film that resonates deeply with the power of human spirit and the unyielding bond of family. Directed by George Miller, this 1992 drama (re-released by Fabulous Films in 2015) tells the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone, played with fervent dedication by Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon. The couple are faced with a parent’s worst nightmare when their son Lorenzo is diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare and debilitating disease.

After returning to Washington, USA in July 1983 after 3 years working in the Comoros Islands, East Africa, 5 year old Lorenzo’s behaviour starts undergo a change, and not for the better. Lorenzo, a bright and vibrant young child, starts to show signs of neurological problems (such as falling, loss of hearing, tantrums, etc.) His parents, Augusto (Nick Nolte) and Michaela Odone (Susan Sarandon) are told he is hyperactive until things get worse, before finally being diagnosed with a very rare terminal disease, Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), that only affects boys between the ages 5-10. ALD is a degenerative brain disorder and 5 year old Lorenzo was given just 2 years to live as there was no treatment available.

Augusto and Michaela are not prepared to sit back and accept the situation and set out to save their child, in the face of the opinion from doctors and specialists. With no medical training, they spend years reading about the disease, its effects and lab studies on the long chain saturated fats that are the cause of the disease. They go head-to-head with their doctors, specialists and support groups who are unwilling or unable to help, set up a symposium to get the leading ALD doctors all in one place and eventually with the help of a London based biochemist (Don Suddaby, who plays himself in the film) synthesise the pure oil (erucic acid) that became Lorenzo’s Oil.

Lorenzo's Oil

Overall, Lorenzo’s Oil is a very powerful and emotional drama that will definitely tug at your heart strings. The film is a harrowing journey about the lengths a parent will go to save their child, but it’s one that is illuminated by the courage and imagination that people can summon in the face of adversity.

Despite being told there was no treatment available, the Odone’s needed to discover for themselves the cause of the disease and know for themselves why it did what it did in order to try and find a way to save Lorenzo and prolong his life, which they did (at the time of making the film, Lorenzo was still alive at the age of 14 and eventually lived until he was 30)!

I am used to seeing Nick Nolte in more gruff, rough and tough roles and wasn’t convinced that he would be right for the part of Augusto Odone, a soft spoken Italian, but he was excellent. Susan Sarandon, who I think is always brilliant, as Michaela was absolutely outstanding and it’s easy to see why she was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award.

Lorenzo’s Oil is a challenging film, a triumph to the struggles and sacrifices that parents will go to for their children. It is not an easy watch but will move and inspire you and leave you in awe of the power of human perseverance.

Rating: 5/5

RRP: £11.99 (Blu-ray) / £5.99 (DVD)

For more information, visit www.fabulousfilms.com. Available to buy from Amazon here.

DISCLOSURE: All thoughts and opinions are my own. This review uses an affiliate link which I may receive a small commission from if you purchase through the Amazon link (it helps with running costs of the website).

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