This review was originally published on November 9, 2008…
For years and years there’s been talk of society decaying to the point where we’re willing to watch executions and torture live on television. O.K., well, fine. So for years I’ve been saying society will eventually decay to the point where we want to watch executions and torture on TV, but I’m sure other people feel the same way. I mean, look at how we glom on to pitiful celebrities and their sad meltdowns and all the while waiting for people at the height of their career to crash and burn. How much longer until we want more blood? According to the team behind the intriguing documentary-hybrid film “A Necessary Death,” the time to up the entertainment ante is upon us.
For his graduate thesis film, student Gilbert Toma (Echternkamp) decides to seek out a suicidal person via Craigslist and see if they won’t let him, his DP (Traynor) and sound girl (Hurt) document the suicidal persons last days, culminating in the final act itself. In our celebrity starved culture it’s no shock when Gilbert gets several replies and he and his crew finally decide on a bright, articulate young man named Matt (Tilley) as their subject.
Without giving too much away the reasons for choosing Matt are pretty clean and clear. Yet for whatever reason Matt has decided he wants to end his life, there’s still some life to be lived and filmed and each person in “A Necessary Death” runs the gamut of conflicted feelings for what they’re doing as well as conflicting feelings about Matt. Yet the crew works tirelessly as Matt’s days wind down to his final week of life on this planet.
“A Necessary Death” is upsetting festival audiences and, well, that’s a good thing. I enjoy movies that spark discussion and divide audiences. Plus the film has quite a bit of depth and that depth stems from your feelings on the subject of suicide plus, inevitably, your feelings about the films subject, Matt. Should assisted suicide be legal or is all suicide wrong? Is it wrong because it’s a sin or is it wrong because people may heal or are just in need of medical help? Did you sort of not care if Matt did or didn’t off himself but changed your mind as you got to know him? Round and round the debate goes but “A Necessary Death” stays pretty well focused on the fact that young Matt is going to kill himself and the film crew is going to film it all. “A Necessary Death” is an intriguing film with several twists and turns and when the credits roll, it’s interesting to see if you think anything has really been resolved.