Dying Young: Movie Review


It’s not just cancer that Victor Geddes is suffering from. He looses his will to live. During the difficult cancer journey his caregiver, Hillary O’Neil motivates him to LIVE again. Dying Young beautifully portrays the cancer patient-caregiver’s journey.

Dying young- Journey from suffering to hope

“Dying Young” is a very touching and emotional story about Victor Geddes (played by Campbell Scott), a young man from a very wealthy family who is diagnosed with leukemia. Victor has everything that life can offer except the one thing he needs the most – a reason to live.

Victor’s father (played by David Selby) is looking for a trained nurse for Victor, but he chooses to overrule his father’s decision and decides to employ someone who will support him personally through his chemotherapy, rather than just play the role of a nurse to him.

Not just just a nurse, a caregiver who can support

He chooses Hillary O’Neil (played by Julia Roberts), a beautiful woman who is lost and confused after being betrayed by her boyfriend. Hillary needs to find a job and a place to stay and so she applies for a residential position, acting as Victor’s caretaker and nurse.

Hilary has very little experience but is full of energy and knows how to live her life and make each moment of it count.

When the caregiver feels overwhelmed

At Victor’s first chemotherapy session, Hilary is struck with sympathy for cancer patients, but once they return home and she sees the aftermath of the side effects, she doubts whether she can even handle the job. Hilary wants to help Victor but is distraught at his pain and suffering.

Victor however convinces her to stay and give it a try, as he is falling in love with her and is beginning to see her as a reason for living, something which he had always wanted in his reclusive and self-confined life.

A ray of hope

In Hillary, Victor is finally able to see a ray of hope! One day Victor tells Hilary that his chemotherapy course has been successfully completed, and that he really wants to start living his life again. He asks her to accompany him on an adventure; to a place where he can do everything he always wanted without being constantly monitored.

So they move together to a secluded house where Hilary gets to see a new side of Victor, one free of medicines, injections and treatments, and instead living a normal life. Slowly their relationship blossoms as they realize their love for each other through all the beautiful experiences they share.

Facing the reality

However destiny has something else in mind. As it turns out, Victor has lied to Hilary about his chemotherapy being successful. In reality, he wanted to escape all that pain and mess and wanted to recover with Hilary’s support. He lied to her but only because he loved her and didn’t want to hurt her.

The movie ends with Hilary and Victor attempting to fight death together for the sake of their love and their relationship.

Lessons for cancer patients and caregivers from the film

‘Dying Young’ has a positive message – that there is always hope no matter what the situation is, provided you have the willingness and thirst to live life and not give up.

By portraying the cancer-patient’s journey as well as that of a care-giver, the movie stands apart, and that makes it an enjoyable watch for patients and care-givers alike.

It shows that cancer can be equally difficult for the care-giver because the hardest thing for anybody is to see his or her loved one suffer or die. It also shows that cancer transforms not only the patient’s life but also the care-givers.

At the end, the movie leaves us with an upbeat message: that hope is the best medicine in life. Victor and Hillary depict how will-power and the support of a loved one can help you look at life itself, anew.


This article was written by Roopali Mathuria, a student of Advertising at EMDI, Mumbai. Roopali describes herself as a fun-loving person who loves to socialize, meet and observe people … that’s where she gets many of her insights. She loves being at home with her family, as her ‘get-away’ from the rest of the world.


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