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In the world of Lifetime movies, there are two basic genres. ONE: A woman triumphing over hardship, adversity, or abuse in a tough, but life affirming, "based on real incidents" TV docudrama. And TWO: The prurient "ripped from the headline" scandal or crime story that borrow from real cases and wallow in distasteful dramatic recreations. While I suppose, on some level, that the heartfelt examination of breast cancer "Five" fits into the first category, it could not be further from the formula filmmaking that the network is known for. For one thing, it is packed with marquee name talent both before and behind the camera. As this special was readied for Breast Cancer Awareness month in 2011, the advertising campaign placed a lot of emphasis on the powerhouse roster of directors behind these five intertwined stories. Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, and Demi Moore all are responsible behind the scenes for one story with Patty Jenkins (who guided Charlize Theron to an Oscar in Monster) and Penelope Spheeris (a great documentarian also credited for the big screen Wayne's World) handling the other two narrative threads.

"Five," as I've already indicated, tells a handful of related and intercut stories about women (and their loved ones) in various stages of Breast Cancer. With an aunt currently enduring Stage Four treatment, I am especially attuned to checking out films/programs related to the topic of cancer. What distinguishes "Five" is that it is both very real feeling but also refreshingly hopeful. It's a serious film, to be sure, but one that also has plenty of moments of levity (just like life) and I appreciated that everything wasn't relentlessly heavy-handed. The film's common denominator is a doctor named Pearl (a level Jeanne Tripplehorn) whom we meet as a child as her own mother is succumbing to the disease. This back story (that stars Josh Holloway, Annie Potts, Bob Newhart, and Jennifer Morrison) initiates the movie and then a modern day Tripplehorn navigates through the other overlapping plot threads as a committed oncologist. We have the great Patricia Clarkson in perhaps the most affecting plot thread, we spend two years as she reaches every step of the acceptance process. Rosario Dawson plays a tough career minded woman tasked with telling her mother and sister about her diagnosis. Lyndsey Fonseca with Taylor Kinney play a young couple dealing with the reality of a mastectomy. And the story comes back around to Tripplehorn for a very personal wrap-up.

"Five" will pull on your heartstrings, as you might expect, but is never overtly manipulative. Its feelings and emotions are well earned. While the movie was recognized with a number of awards and nominations, I'm a little surprised that it didn't figure more prominently into the Emmy season (it only got one nod for Best Casting). Tripplehorn continues to be one of our greatest unsung talents, and Clarkson is absolutely mesmerizing here. Smart and sophisticated and meaningful, I credit Lifetime for breaking its own mold with this one. A huge and talented cast (there are plenty of familiar faces that I did not mention) make this a must watch film about a powerful topic. KGHarris, 10/12.
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on October 3, 2012
Five is composed of five short films directed by five different directors--Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Penelope Spheeris, Alicia Keys, and Patty Jenkins--that form a continuous narrative. The theme is the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis on the life of the person with the disease and that person's family and friends.

It sounds like a recipe for a depressing and overly-sentimental film, but that's not the case here. There is sadness here but there is also triumph, humor, hope . . . consequences that someone who has never faced this wouldn't even think of. Characters who are human beings--flawed, unwilling to face painful truths, not afraid to love or be loved in spite of it all. Yes, you want to have a hanky handy when you watch this, but you'll also roar with laughter as this amazingly talented cast performs these beautifully written scripts.

Powerful, sentimental, funny . . . most of all, comforting and life affirming.
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on September 28, 2012
Five stories intertwine about the way breast cancer affects the lives of women and men who suffer from it. They humanize the coping process through comedy, love, and strength. The stories are bold and brave. The actors don't glamorize the situations; instead bring them down to a level that we can all relate to and raises our awareness to something that we are often asleep to. A true conversational piece that keeps you talking.
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In the world of Lifetime movies, there are two basic genres. ONE: A woman triumphing over hardship, adversity, or abuse in a tough, but life affirming, "based on real incidents" TV docudrama. And TWO: The prurient "ripped from the headline" scandal or crime story that borrow from real cases and wallow in distasteful dramatic recreations. While I suppose, on some level, that the heartfelt examination of breast cancer "Five" fits into the first category, it could not be further from the formula filmmaking that the network is known for. For one thing, it is packed with marquee name talent both before and behind the camera. As this special was readied for Breast Cancer Awareness month in 2011, the advertising campaign placed a lot of emphasis on the powerhouse roster of directors behind these five intertwined stories. Jennifer Aniston, Alicia Keys, and Demi Moore all are responsible behind the scenes for one story with Patty Jenkins (who guided Charlize Theron to an Oscar in Monster) and Penelope Spheeris (a great documentarian also credited for the big screen Wayne's World) handling the other two narrative threads.

"Five," as I've already indicated, tells a handful of related and intercut stories about women (and their loved ones) in various stages of Breast Cancer. With an aunt currently enduring Stage Four treatment, I am especially attuned to checking out films/programs related to the topic of cancer. What distinguishes "Five" is that it is both very real feeling but also refreshingly hopeful. It's a serious film, to be sure, but one that also has plenty of moments of levity (just like life) and I appreciated that everything wasn't relentlessly heavy-handed. The film's common denominator is a doctor named Pearl (a level Jeanne Tripplehorn) whom we meet as a child as her own mother is succumbing to the disease. This back story (that stars Josh Holloway, Annie Potts, Bob Newhart, and Jennifer Morrison) initiates the movie and then a modern day Tripplehorn navigates through the other overlapping plot threads as a committed oncologist. We have the great Patricia Clarkson in perhaps the most affecting plot thread, we spend two years as she reaches every step of the acceptance process. Rosario Dawson plays a tough career minded woman tasked with telling her mother and sister about her diagnosis. Lyndsey Fonseca with Taylor Kinney play a young couple dealing with the reality of a mastectomy. And the story comes back around to Tripplehorn for a very personal wrap-up.

"Five" will pull on your heartstrings, as you might expect, but is never overtly manipulative. Its feelings and emotions are well earned. While the movie was recognized with a number of awards and nominations, I'm a little surprised that it didn't figure more prominently into the Emmy season (it only got one nod for Best Casting). Tripplehorn continues to be one of our greatest unsung talents, and Clarkson is absolutely mesmerizing here. Smart and sophisticated and meaningful, I credit Lifetime for breaking its own mold with this one. A huge and talented cast (there are plenty of familiar faces that I did not mention) make this a must watch film about a powerful topic. KGHarris, 10/12.
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on May 7, 2015
Love that all the actresses we have grown to love put together all their skills to produce such beautiful yet sad stories. We have all been touched by cancer in ine way or another! Love to see people with notariaty using their fame for such a great cause! Job well done ladies. Made me cry.
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on June 22, 2016
Such an incredible movie. Each story was well written, directed. And the actors & actress did a superb job portraying the characters emotions. Living with cancer myself, they all did a great job expressing the many different emotions we go through that is hard to put into words. A WONDERFUL AND POWERFUL MOVIE!!
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on April 10, 2016
As a cancer patient diagnosed at 34, and now 35, almost one year out this movie does a good job of showing the different emotions and journeys one can go through. You see it from the cancer patient, significant other, parents, siblings perspectives as well. Cancer is not only a journey of the patients, but those around them, and everybody deals with it differently.

There is hope in the story. As a cancer survivor, that's something you cling on to. I look for the rays of light and know that there has to be something good that comes out of this.

As a cancer patient there were a few scenes that I wish were more realistic. In the movie Alicia Keys directed the main character is putting on make-up before surgery. That's a huge no-no, and she wouldn't have been able to have the surgery. No make-up, lotion, nail polish, that stuff can cause an infection. She also walks into the surgery room. You have at least 2 hours of pre-op before they wheel you into the scary, stale, bright surgery room.

The other scene that should have been slightly different was when one of the characters is recovering from her mastectomy and is flat on her back. You cannot lie flat for a few weeks due to the drain tubes, the incision area, it hurts like hell! Two weeks is if you're lucky, I was in a recliner for about a month, lying flat is torture.

I know it's a movie and not a documentary. Overall, well done!
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on October 3, 2012
Excellent portrayal of the impact that breast cancer has not only on the women (and men) stricken by this horrible disease (1 of every 8 women) but also on the men (and women) in their lives, their children, parents, other family members, and long-time friends. The victims are young, old, ordinary folks, and accomplished professionals. This element of the film underscores the pervasive and arbitrary way in which breast cancer strikes. All of the victims are unsuspecting.

The short stories are not isolated; they have a common thread that is more than the disease itself. Each one of the stories reveals a different aspect of how the disease can and does occur and how it powerfully grips everyone who's close to the victim. There is light humor, mournful sadness, dignity, shock and denial, and tenderness and compassion; and all of these emotions and reactions come across as credible and realistic consequences of the diagnosis; they did not seem the least bit contrived to this reviewer.

The acting is solid throughout. There is an overall climax to the 5 stories in this anthology that will touch even the detached viewer. IMO, this is a film for all men and women to watch and discuss. The different characters and circumstances of the 5 stories provide a rich context for such discussions. All 5 of the women directors deserve kudos for their masterful work in making this the fine film that it is.
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on September 8, 2013
Anyone with cancer or with someone in the family who is so afflicted should see this movie. A movie of five vignettes, the first scene with the child perplexed response to the families attempt to hide her mother's cancer is very good, The scene with Rosario Dawson is also very good. Nevertheless of the short stories are goo.
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on March 3, 2014
best acting job by one of those "pretty face" young actors, Taylor Kinney. he is going to win an oscar one of these years, for sure. you have to see it to know what i'm talking about, honest.
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