Parents' Guide to

Decoding Annie Parker

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Powerful if a bit uneven docudrama about cancer, research.

Movie R 2014 99 minutes
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Cinematographer Steven Bernstein makes his feature-film directorial debut with this informative if slightly uneven depiction of how two different women address breast cancer. One is a researcher, one a survivor; both commit themselves to the notion that breast cancer that runs in family can't be a coincidence. Despite the film's strong language and occasional sex scenes, it feels more like an old-school made-for-TV-movie than a sophisticated feature. The performances are solid and the story powerful, but the execution (especially the division between the two storylines) is spotty and underwhelming at times.

Still, it's emotional and upsetting -- particularly as the Job-like Annie deals with death after death and treatment after treatment. Decoding Annie Parker is a good choice for mothers to watch with their mature teen daughters; they'll have plenty to talk about afterward. Whether it's discussing Annie's heartbreaking life or Dr. King's relentless mission to find the gene, audiences will want to find out more about the real story of BRCA gene research. Although there's a lot of sadness in the drama, ultimately science prevails in a most unsentimental way. The feelings are left to Annie, who never gets her family back but does get the answers she desperately needs.

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