A Mother for Emily
Ellen (Katey Sagal - Trail of Tears) and Brian Young (Tom Irwin - When Husbands Cheat) are happily married and whilst both Ellen and their daughter Emily almost died when she was born prematurely they survived. But then shortly after Emily's birth Ellen started to feel unwell and after a visit to the doctor is diagnosed to have cancer, something which she has battled twice before. Despite going through treatment the cancer spreads and Ellen finds herself having to accept that it is terminal and she won't be around to see her daughter grow up. Determined that Emily should have a mother and Brian should have a wife she sets about setting Brian up with her nurse Claire (Annabeth Gish - Beautiful Girls) a hard working single mum with two daughters of her own. But both Brian and Claire find it difficult to accept Ellen's wishes.
In fairness "No Higher Love" is based on a true story but it is also a familiar story, a parent discovering that they are dying and so sets about arranging things for her family for when they are gone. But whilst some movies which deal with the subject focus on the parent writing down their story, leaving letters for loved ones or lessons for their children to learn that they won't be around to teach them, "No Higher Love" focuses on a dying mother trying to find her husband a new wife who will be a mother to their daughter. Of course this is a weepy as any movie featuring a parent preparing to die is going to be emotional but it works thanks to the simple fact it is inspired by a true story.
The thing about "No Higher Love" is that it is not a movie which just focuses on the impact of Ellen's diagnosis of terminal cancer but embraces the bigger picture. In the scenes following the premature birth of their daughter there is an amazing scene surrounding Claire talking Ellen through her feelings when it comes to her fears about her premature daughter and the feelings of guilt and detachment due to her being in an incubator. That is followed by an informative and powerful scene when they take the baby of the respirator and we linger to see if she manages to take an unaided breath.
Now whilst "No Higher Love" is a weepy and embraces the bigger picture it is not with out its faults. One of those is the presentation of perfect when it comes to Claire and her two daughters, an angelic family which unfortunately borders on being a little too perfect and too understanding. Although it does make Claire likeable and Annabeth Gish brings a lot of sweet charm to the role. In fact the entire cast bring charm to their characters which heightens the impact when Ellen discovers she is dying which is a series of scenes handled nicely by Katey Sagal and Tom Irwin.
What this all boils down to is that "No Higher Love" is a touching movie which whilst having some issues certainly leaves a lasting impact.