Alex: The Life of a Child (1986)
A Precious Child
Spoiler alert: to review "Alex: The Life of a Child" I need to dip into the details of the story and so for those who don't know what the movie is about or only know the bare bones and don't want it spoiled I suggest finding a copy and watching it, it is definitely worth it even for those who think all TV movies are terrible.
"Alex: The Life of a Child" is the story of the Deford family and starts with Frank Deford (Craig T. Nelson) sitting down to write a book about his and Carole's (Bonnie Bedelia) daughter Alex. Whilst I don't remember it specifically saying it is very clear that Alex is no longer with them and Frank whilst trying to keep on going is struggling to move on. He is not the only one because as the story plays out we see how Carole is coping in her way, wanting to adopt and their son is also trying to cope in his own way.
But before we see that part of the story we jump back to the start and the happy Deford family rocked when they are informed that Alex has Cystic Fibrosis and is not given long to live which initially leads Frank to say that may be they shouldn't become too attached if she only had a short time to live as it would be too hard afterwards. It is a fair point but we see that Alex confounds the doctors and lives longer than expected.
But as such we also get to see the effect Alex has on the family from the tiring devotion which Carole gives to her as she refuses to spend time away from their daughter. But as we watch all the treatment which is required from hospital visits to daily clearing of the mucus we also see how the hardships are outweighed by the positives that this fun loving and optimistic young girl brings to the Deford family.
There is a lot more to "Alex: The Life of a Child" than just this but it gives you a gist of the rounded story at hand which shows the difficulties of having a child with Cystic Fibrosis but also the complications which remain after that baby had died. It is a sensitive dramatization which refrains from being too dramatic and manages to get an emotional response through the nature of the story. Let me put it this way, the scene where we see Frank having to do the daily job of slapping Alex's chest to clear the mucus and we see her eyes welling up as it hurts is genuinely upsetting but so is seeing their son in the other room hearing his little sister so upset at the treatment she has to go through.
As such the acting through out "Alex: The Life of a Child" is first rate with Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia doing a first rate job of delivering restrained performances which make their characters real.
What this all boils down to is that "Alex: The Life of a Child" is a touching story but also an informative one which shows the big picture when it comes to Cystic Fibrosis from having a child with the disease but also the turmoil which is left in your life afterwards.
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