Breast Fest 2014: Lily – Film Review

Director: Matt Creed
Co-writers: Matt Creed, Amy Grantham
Cast: Amy Grantham, Simon Chaput, Benjamin Slater, Zachary Unger, Lindsay Burdge
Runtime: 87 mins

It’s difficult to understand the impact on ones mind when told that they have a life threatening disease. More so, we don’t really think too much about the post-disease life one lives through. It’s a happy, milestone moment without a doubt, but do we really understand those individuals? Matt Creed’s Lily takes us on a bit of a field trip, experiencing the life of a rather beautiful and colourful character.

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Set in New York City, the film puts a spotlight on Lily (Amy Grantham), a breast cancer survivor whose treatment is slowly coming to an end. During her cancer treatment, Lily has spent a great amount of time exploring and understanding the world she lives in, particularly the important elements in her life. Cancer is but one broken part of her life that she follows through and fixes. She reflects back on the many things she hasn’t give enough thought to, hoping to finally answer the many questions in her head.

The film is, without a doubt, a beautiful character study. Audiences get an opportunity to experience the day-to-day life of this beautiful young woman and really understand her emotions, wants and dreams. If there is one thing you can appreciate about this film it is that it does not bathe the character with sympathy. Instead, the film really highlights her as an average, everyday New Yorker going about her business. We often treat people who have experienced a major life event very differently, like they require a helping hand or a constant watchful eye. Matt Creed has thrown out the fluff and has focused on this woman living her everyday life, with cancer just being something that exists. The direction and cinematography lets the audience experience the character to the fullest, allowing us to personally connect with her. That connection, paired with the steady evolution of her character, is a truly wonderful experience.

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What do I say about Amy Grantham. Her co-written story is absolutely beautiful but her character is even more so. Filled with curiosity in her eyes, Lily is a woman on a path of exploration, absorbing life’s tiny moments and showcasing how important they really are. The way in which she portrays the character is just wonderful to watch. Creed creates a simple, clear film. Grantham creates a character that goes above and beyond her disease. Fear, an element that exists within all cancer patients, is something Grantham’s character embraces and understands. You see Lily push barriers away to experience new and crazy things, while also understanding that she has gone through a lot. You see her character evolve as she soaks in more of her surroundings and reflects on various things in her life. This post-cancer portrayal of life is eye opening as well as you slowly realize that here’s a young woman who has experienced something major in her life, but is living it as she should be.

Lily is not just some film. Its a story, one that can be related to by anyone who has had major change in their life or have many unanswered questions. The cancer doesn’t become the driving factor in Lily’s life but just another thing that requires attention, and something that has given her an opportunity to reflect. It’s films like this that remind us that no matter the magnitude of problems in our life, it is up to us to decide whether those problems define us. In this case, cancer is just another stepping stone in life. Understand it, embrace what comes of it, but move forward.

Watch Lily at 3:30pm on March 29, 2014, at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. For details, click HERE.

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