TIFF 2016: 150 Milligrams Review

Special Presentations 

Here’s a recommendation. Filmmakers should collaborate with film critics. We’re not the bad guys. We have ideas, and with our ideas, you could make perfect films. Let’s take this one for an example.

First, lessen the dosage – err – runtime. 128 minutes! Director and screenwriter Emmanuelle Bercot’s adaptation of the non-fictional account, Mediator 150 Milligrams, details the efforts of a true medical advocate, Irène Frachon (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen), who wishes to stop the production and use of Mediator, a medication that’s highly correlated with heart disease and morbidity. Yes, the story is important, but that just means you want to ensure that it comes in a concise and sleek package. I could shear off half of the runtime for you.

Second, focus on the meaningful details. There’s a great story here. Underdog vs. evil pharmaceutical corporation. However, it’s bogged down with the excess mentioned above, and some of it is a bit cliche. We’ve seen this before. However, what was striking were the moments involving Frachon’s strained relationship with her colleague Antoine (an excellent Benoît Magimel), who is equal measures anxious and conscientious. Frachon does somewhat come across as mean when she doesn’t heed his advice and cautions – but then again she saves lives. That’s a source of drama, right there. Another cool part of the film was when Frachon’s children help her become more media savvy to promote her crusade – she doesn’t want to, at first, but then sees (as so do we) the potential for fun. 

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Finally, decide what your audience is. Are they morons that cannot comprehend Big Pharma being evil? Do we need to be told the umpteenth time that so and so is evil, and therefore we need to wish them a speedy descent into the echelons of hell? Or can we just let the facts speak for themselves? 

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