Critics' Pick

Dying to Live: The Journey Into a Man's Open Heart (NR)

By Gavin Williamson
Part documentary and part autobiographical memoir, Ben Mittleman’s Dying to Live follows the writer-producer-director’s battle with a hereditary heart condition while probing into larger questions about the nature of life. Matters of mortality drive much of the film, as the specter of death creeps into and changes Mittleman’s relationships with those closest to him. Then his wife and his mother both undergo their own medical battles, forcing Mittleman to realize how much his own sanity rests on the shoulders of his family. What begins to emerge from this medical maelstrom is a frequently touching portrait of personal idiosyncrasy, Judaism and life’s true value. The most endearing personalities in Dying to Live don’t belong to the filmmaker, however, but to the women — his mother, his wife and his aunt — who provide him with a sturdy platform of emotional support. The real menschen here are the proto-feminist bubbies who run the scene.

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