The subject matter’s certainly bleak, but this film about finding a cure for cancer features its fair share of laughs. It’s based on the lives of two incredible women, irrepressible patient Annie Parker and brilliant research scientist Mary-Claire King, who discovered a genetic link to the disease.
It follows Annie from age 11 upwards, when, on one autumn afternoon, illness shatters her formerly idyllic childhood. Meanwhile, Mary-Claire, played by Oscar winner Helen Hunt, ignores the advice of colleagues, friends and family to pursue her work, embarking on a journey that would lead to one of the 20th century’s most important scientific discoveries.
By her late teens, Annie (Emily Watson) has lost both parents, had married and is expecting her first child. Drawing support from both her fun, if immature, husband, she also relies heavily on her older sister – until she too succumbed to the disease that killed their mother, leaving Annie virtually alone. Yet, she had little idea of the challenges to come.
When she, too, is diagnosed with breast cancer, her world spins out of control, affecting not only her body, but also her marriage, her child and her friends. She loses everything, but continues to battle the disease, growing stronger with each tragedy and believing she can will herself to live.
As Anne fights for her health, Mary-Claire King, pursues her theory that some forms of cancer have a genetic link, a notion rejected by her peers. Against all odds, she and her band of staff make one of most remarkable medical breakthroughs of the era.