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Two Weeks

4.1 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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(Sep 18, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Sally Field stars in this limited-release movie about four siblings dealing with the death of their mother. Bonuses: featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes.

When it seems inevitable that Anita (Sally Field) will succumb to cancer, her grown children return home to help prepare her funeral arrangements in the dramedy Two Weeks. But as the film's title implies, death isn't as immediate as they had expected, and the four siblings are left to confront each other, as well as the memories of their childhood, as they watch (and wait for) their mother pass away. A bittersweet comedy based more on dialogue than action, Two Weeks is a wonderful showcase for the always reliable Field. When her character is comatose during the second half of the picture, the film loses some of its impact, since Field is the strongest and most compelling cast member. But Julianne Nicholson, who plays Anita's daughter Emily, brings quiet strength to her role and outshines the male co-stars who play her brothers Keith (Ben Chaplin), Barry (Tom Cavanagh), and Matthew (Glenn Howerton). A gifted actress with an expressive face, Nicholson more than holds her own in scenes with Field and gets across the pain, sadness, and desperation of a daughter about to lose her mother. Some of the witty familial bantering between the brothers seems forced and clichéd, and the viewer is acutely aware that the actors are working hard to outdo each other. Still, Two Weeks gets across the conflicted emotions people feel when faced with the death of a loved one. --Jae-Ha Kim

Interview with Steve Stockman, director of Two Weeks

Tell us about your background and how it prepared you for the making of this film, how did "Two Weeks" come about?

I’ve been a commercial director and writer for most of my career so far. Two Weeks grew out of personal experience. It went like this: When my mother died at home in 1997, the whole family was there. The mortuary guy came to pick up her body in an unmarked white SUV. He had one of those rolling stretchers where you flip a lever and the wheels pop down. My mom lived in a suburban neighborhood. It was about 5 in the morning, the sun was just starting to brighten the sky. The guy wheels my mother's body out of the house, and loads it into the truck. I'd just had this excruciating night-long ordeal with my family and I stood there, watching from the top of the driveway as the truck pulled away. Just then, a car came up the street, dropping newspapers one at a time in the driveways of the sleeping houses. And I thought, I wake up every morning on my own street, in my own neighborhood. And somewhere, this is going on. It happens all the time. This is part of everyday life. How come we don't know what it's like? Seven years later I had just finished a script and I couldn't come up with a new idea to write. I kept looking at my list of brainstormed "high concepts," hoping to find one that grabbed me: Mafia Nanny? No. Talking Dog Detective? No. Time Traveling Archeologist? No. Hooker Brain Surgeon? Way no. I had all these notes from when my mother died -- I did a lot of writing while it was happening. I kept coming back to the notes, and remembering those moments -- a lot of them were really funny. Of course the rational, I've-been-in-the-entertainment-industry-since-I-was-18 side of me was thinking, "Great. A dying mother comedy. They'll line up for that." But I couldn't leave it alone. So I took a deep breath, and wrote it. I started the script in a writers' workshop, and I was really surprised by the reactions -- the funny parts were funny. The sad parts were sad. And better still, everybody could relate. They'd all been through it, or knew someone who had. Which was great, because I got a lot of suggestions from other people's experiences that were terrific, that I immediately "borrowed" and which I can now say were entirely my idea, every one of them. The end result isn't just a comedy (though many parts are really funny), and it's not just a tragedy. We've tried to make it about truth. About a family trying to figure things out when the one person who really holds them together can't hold on anymore.

What about the DVD: Will the final cut be the same as the theatrical, and will there be any extras that you can tell us about?

The DVD cut is the same as the theatrical. There are two very cool extras: - My favorite: Since nobody ever listens to the director’s track (and it’s my first movie…it’s not like I’m Francis Coppola) I invited Dr. Ira Byock, an end of life expert and director of palliative care at Dartmouth, to comment with me on the film. I talked about what went on with the making of the movie, and Ira gave his perspective for people who are facing, or have faced, the same situation. Having someone else with a different perspective was great, and hopefully there’s a lot of information that’s fun, and useful for people. BTW, After this successful experience, Ira and I are now available for to do commentary tracks for other films, weddings, and Bar Mitzvahs. - When I did Q&A’s after screenings this Spring, several people said they were looking forward to discussing the movie in their book groups. So we came up with a Group Discussion Guide you can flip through on screen, that gives you questions for group discussion. We got the idea from paperbacks that do the same thing.

What do you want your audience to take away from this movie?

Our first and most important takeaway is, we hope, entertainment. We tried hard to create a film that’s an emotional ride: Very real, very moving, and very, very funny. And if we succeed there, it’s a home run. I’m also hoping that, as part and parcel of delivering an entertaining film, we managed to dig out some truth that will be valuable and relatable and informative, and bring people together in the way that the best movies do.

How was working with Sally Field? Was she your first choice for the role?

I had a very short list of amazing actresses I could, in my dreams, picture doing the part, and Sally was definitely one. Working with Sally was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sally plays Anita, the mother in the film. Day one of the shoot, Ben Chaplin (her oldest son) is behind the camera, interviewing a still-healthy Anita about her life. We're shooting 13 pages of dialogue, almost all hers, that will take about 10 minutes of screen time in the finished film. That's a lot of shooting, and I budgeted two days to shoot it. But Sally wanted to do it in one. Great, I think, I can be a day ahead of schedule after the first day. They'll think I'm a genius. We're shooting in a house in Nashville, TN. The crew is a little nervous -everyone is at the beginning of a film, but this is the first day with our two biggest stars, one of whom is a living legend. So everyone's a little keyed up. Finally, we're ready, and Sally and Ben walk onto the set. Ben crams into a tight space next to the camera. He seems a bit nervous, too. Ben's British and has been a little worried about his American accent all week (turns out it's perfect, but nobody, including Ben, knows that yet). Sally sits down on the couch where she'll be interviewed, puts her script on the floor, her bag with her knitting, water bottle and cell phone next to it. She waits patiently for everyone to be ready. The assistant director calls "Action," and Ben asks her the first interview question. And there, in front of the camera, Sally Field becomes the character. You can hear jaws drop all over the set. She's perfect. Not good. Perfect. And she continues to be perfect the entire day. She doesn't miss a line in 13 pages of heavy dialogue ("Fantastically memorable writing," I try telling myself.) Every gesture, every look, is real - it's Sally, yet not she's slipped on a coat of character and became someone else. We did three takes at the most of any of the 14 particularly emotional scene was so perfect we only did one (it's the "I can see the end of my life" speech near the end). Sometimes I just asked for a second take because I wanted to see what else she had. Never because I didn't like the first one. There was one scene that didn't work quite right. It felt like a gratuitous joke to her, not something the character would actually do. We discussed it. OK, we argued about it. She was right, of course, but the screenwriter in me felt the piece needed some humor at that moment in the film. When she did it, she adjusted her performance to add a wistfulness, a bit of darker emotion behind the humor. So now a scene I wanted for comic relief works, but it's deeper and better than it would have been otherwise. And it still only took three takes. The most astounding thing about that first day was how high she set the bar for the rest of us. It would have been tough for anyone, cast or crew, to walk onto the set and not give their all after that.

What are your favorite movies to recommend to people? What DVDs do you have on your shelf at home?

I’m a movie omnivore—I like any genre, as long as it’s a good movie. So my tastes range from the fairly obvious The Godfather I & II (and yes, I listened to the director commentary on both. Twice.) to The Hidden, a 1978 cult fave horror film. The home DVD library is aimed at teaching the kids what quality movies look like, from the Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogy, to Jackie Chan, to Miyazaki (Spirited Away is our favorite) to Buster Keaton (go right for Sherlock Jr.), anything by Preston Sturges, Casablanca and Singing in the Rain, which we just watched AGAIN last weekend.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Sally Field, Ben Chaplin, Tom Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson, Clea DuVall
  • Directors: Steve Stockman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: September 18, 2007
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000TV1ST2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,351 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Two Weeks" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 21, 2007
Format: DVD
The humor is way too forced, superficial and well-trodden to add the well-intentioned black comedy elements this otherwise bittersweet soap opera needs, but this 2007 film offers a vanity-free Sally Field giving a powerhouse performance as Anita Bergman, the dying mother of four grown children. The movie's title refers to the amount of time her character is expected to live before succumbing to ovarian cancer. With the clock ticking, the four children gather at her North Carolina home from different parts of the country and respond differently to the imminent tragedy. Directed and written by Steve Stockman as a series of vignettes, the characterizations represent different archetypes, and the actors are left to flesh them out to some human dimension. The results of their efforts are variable.

Affecting an unrecognizable American accent, Ben Chaplin fares the poorest as eldest brother Keith, an LA-based filmmaker whose sarcastic jokes are meant to shield him from feelings of insecurity and guilt. His character has the most screen time, yet his constantly jokey facade gets in the way of any sympathy we have for him. At first, Tom Cavanaugh plays Ben, the son Anita has dubbed the responsible one, as an obnoxious yuppie workaholic who gradually reveals his fears of loss but fades in the background. As only daughter Beth, Julianne Nicholson is terrific in unconditionally embracing her role as chief caretaker given that her mother is really her best friend, for better or worse. Youngest brother Matthew is drawn in the broadest strokes as the picked-upon baby of the family, and his resentment has manifested itself with a shrewish wife whom everybody else hates.
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Comment 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
This genre tends to be hit or miss in that it's very hard to create a credible drama with humorous elements. This one nails it quite well.

Recent endeavors into this genre have left me feeling very suspicious of them and the disastrous Running With Scissors pretty much nailed the coffin shut for me. Earlier tries that I can recall that were quite good were Terms of Endearment and Steel Magnolias. This film, Two Weeks, like the two previous mentioned films, deals with family relations and death and to my surprise handled both with great insight and realism that is laced with gallows-like humor.

The story about a dying mother, excellently portrayed by the ever reliable and incredibly youthful Sally Field, who is predominately cared for by her daughter, extremely well-played by Julianne Nicholson. The sons are invited later, during the mother's final stage of death, to come and help and pay their respects. Old jealousies, arguments, and petty issues come up more because of the tension of dealing with a dying parent than anything else, but they are all realistically handled except for the youngest brother who simply can't see the self-absorbed wife he has that grates on everyone's nerves. It's a stretch to see anything likable in her enough to encourage anyone to want to marry her.
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Format: DVD
TWO WEEKS may put a lot of viewers off as it deals confrontationally with the issues of death and dying and yet finds the very human humor that always serves as a relief sidebar in stories (and life incidents) such as this. Steve Stockman wrote, directed and produced this little film and his inspiration and efforts are well served by a fine ensemble cast. It is a story about dying and the effects the finality of that event have on a family that has dispersed in different directions life.

Anita Bergman (a phenomenally effective Sally Field) is under hospice care as she faces her last days of dying from gastrointestinal cancer. Knowing that she has little time left she calls upon her four children to return home to North Carolina for goodbyes. Her children are a mixed lot: Keith (Ben Chaplin) is a Zen-influenced California man who has decided to video his mother for posterity; Barry (Thomas Cavanagh) is a workaholic who attempts to piece together time for this inconvenient disruption in his work routine; Matthew (Glenn Howerton) is the baby of the family dominated by a tactless wife whom the rest of the family detest; Emily (a luminous Julianne Nicholson) is the sole sister who has collected all the books on the dying process for her brothers' education and is the stalwart one who holds the family together. Anita divorced the children's father and remarried a quiet man Jim (James Murtaugh) who is essentially ignored or tolerated by the children.
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