Film Review: "You Don't Know Jack"

"You Don't Know Jack" is an HBO movie, now out on DVD. The DVD version was my first chance to view it. The role of Dr. Jack Kevorkian is skillfully played by Al Pacino, who can master many an eccentric role, to be sure.

The story was apparently crafted with participation from the real-life players, as there are additional DVD interviews with Kevorkian, his assistant Nicol and his lawyer.

We learn slim back-story Kevorkian - the child of survivors of the Armenian genocide and, who, as a young doctor, watched his mother's long-suffering in pain while dying. The nod to "Dr. Death's" back-story serves to increase our compassion and understanding of this odd, egotistical, passionate and peculiar man and the trajectory of his career.
The real-life Kevorkian, with his invention dubbed the "Thanatron"(death machine).

Kevorkian is a pathologist whose life circumstances and research leads him to the conclusion that the United States is far behind Europe in understanding and responding to the pain and suffering of the terminally or catastrophically ill. In this film, Kevorkian's own life becomes a foil for the larger debate regarding assisted suicide. The pace of the movie is punctuated with quiet and somewhat bizarre humor, which helps the film from becoming relentless and tiresome.

Somewhere between his compassion for those in pain and his desire to make a name for himself and take the debate over assisted suicide to the Supreme Court... the often rude and inarticulate Kevorkian is willing to serve prison time and refrain from eating while in jail to the point of starvation for his cause. The man who seems to have no heart suffers greatly for a singular cause.

"I don't know jack" about Kevorkian, and this film gives me reason to look deeper into the life of this fascinating man.

"You Don't Know Jack"
HBO film on DVD
Directed by Barry Levinson
Written by Adam Mazer; Steve Lee Jones, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Glenn Rigberg, Tom Fontana and Mr. Levinson,
Al Pacino (Dr.Jack Kevorkian)
Susan Sarandon (Janet Good)
Danny Huston (Geoffrey Fieger)
Brenda Vaccaro (Margo Janus)
John Goodman (Neal Nicol)