Lorenzo’s Oil


This movie was released in 1992, but I did not see it until three or four years ago; I saw it again about a month ago when I introduced it to my girlfriend, Jersey.  Lorenzo’s Oil is the true story of Augusto and Michaela Odone and their son, Lorenzo.  When Lorenzo is diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) as a small child, his parents tirelessly fight to find a cure for their only child.  It’s an emotional battle against a disease that is largely mysterious and under-publicized, and the movie does a great job of capturing the passion of parents who will do anything to avoid the ending they fear.

I don’t want to go into details of this story and, in fact, I’d suggest that anyone interested in viewing this movie avoid reading up on the family.  While I believe that a movie based on a true story is not necessarily ruined by knowing all the facts, I feel that this movie has a stronger impact when you are as unknowing and fearful as Augusto and Michaela.  If real-life medical dramas or heart-wrenching family struggles interest you at all, I highly recommend Lorenzo’s Oil.  The basis for the movie may be tragic, but there is so much hope and love in this family that viewers await a miracle.

A question for everyone, whether you’ve seen the movie or not (though I acknowledge answers may differ if anyone has seen the movie):  I’ve read many opinions that Michaela, at least as portrayed by Susan Sarandon, is a bitch because she pushes everyone (her husband, sister, doctors, fellow parents, her son) so hard.  I see her as being a typical “mama bear” who will let nothing stand in her way when it comes to saving her son.  At what point, in any life-threatening struggle, is a parent going too far for their child?  Is there a limit somewhere?  Should parents accept medical “fate” as it has been determined, or is it appropriate to challenge doctors?  Is someone who demands the best for her own child, taking away from the good of the whole?

***Spoilers Below***

For those who have seen this movie, but have not followed the story of the Odone family, I will note that Michaela Odone passed away in 2000 and Lorenzo Odone passed away in May of this year, just one day after his 30th birthday.  Prognosis for those boys affected by ALD has continued to improve since the introduction of the Myelin Project and research has expanded, thanks in great part to the Odone family.


One Response to “Lorenzo’s Oil”

  1. wordlily Says:

    I remember watching this! It was heart-rending, but amazing. An excellent film. I’m with you, I think she was mostly just pulling for and fighting for her kid the only way she knows.

    Just my opinion, but challenging doctors is nearly always not only appropriate, but smart. You have to be your own/your child’s advocate.

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