(1992)

Critic Reviews

80

Metascore

Based on 21 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
You may have heard that Lorenzo's Oil is a harrowing movie experience. It is, but in the best way. It takes a heartbreaking story and pushes it to the limit, showing us the lengths of courage and imagination that people can summon when they must.
90
As directed by George Miller, this film has an appealingly brisk, unsentimental style and a rare ability to compress and convey detailed medical data. It also displays tremendous compassion for all three Odones and what they have been through.
90
Where most movies lie, Lorenzo's Oil tells the truth and pays the price. In a genre rife with romantic sentimentality, this film won't trifle with its integrity and ends up not artificially uplifting but heart-rending and exhausting. Based on a true story, it shows how dreadfully hard you have to fight to make a difference, and how grueling it can be to save even a single human life.
90
In its own quiet way this is an astonishing film, both as a medical detective story that sustains taut interest over an extended running time and as a piece of cinema combining unusually resourceful acting and direction. If any movie of recent years deserves to be called inspirational--a much-abused term that one hesitates to revive apart from exceptional circumstances--this one certainly does.
83
Lorenzo’s Oil is at once harrowing and riveting. In the age of AIDS, it has telling observations to make about how the institutionalized complacency of the medical establishment actually works. As remarkable a job as Miller and the actors have done, though, the film begins to wear you down. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, it’s far too long, and (more crucially) it has a flat, repetitive structure.
80
The only phoney note, ironically, comes from Miller's gaffe of enlisting retired Yorkshire biochemist Don Suddaby, extractor of the said oil, for a self-conscious appearance as himself. That aside, this is exhausting, intelligent and undeniably moving .
80
Variety
Lorenzo's Oil is as grueling a medical case study as any audience would ever want to sit through. A true-life story brought to the screen intelligently and with passionate motivation by George Miller, pic details in a very precise way how a couple raced time to save the life of their young son after he contracted a rare, always fatal disease.
75
An unusual piece of work that combines almost thriller-style suspense with an intelligent, neo-documentary approach to its harrowing subject.
70
Washington Post
Lorenzo's Oil, which stars Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte as the Odone parents, is not superbly made. But it's adequate enough to convey the story. No filmmaker (in this case, director George Miller) could stand in the way of this drama, though certainly others could have made it better.
60
Time Out London
The film comes over as a tour de force version of the disease-of-the-week TV movie: half scientific detective story, half domestic drama, replete with scenes of suffering. Throughout, Miller points up every least thing: religious symbolism, snow-dusted Christmas windows for pathos, spinning news headlines, and swirling, diving camera movements. Finally, it begins to seem a little dishonest and self-conscious, as if Miller were trying to make an AIDS movie with hope and a positive ending.

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