You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Life According to Sam

A straightforward, solidly crafted inspirational tale that should appeal to quality broadcasters.

With: Sam Berns, Leslie Gordon, Scott Berns, Audrey Gordon.

Life According to Sam” chronicles a real-life “Lorenzo’s Oil” scenario in which parental dedication to research actually changed the treatment and life-expectancy prospects for a seriously afflicted child. The titular Massachusetts boy was diagnosed early on with progeria, a rare accelerated-aging disorder whose victims die in their teens (or earlier) from causes that typically befall seniors. This latest docu by Sean and Andrea Nix Fine (“War/Dance”) is a straightforward, solidly crafted inspirational tale that should appeal to quality broadcasters. HBO plans its first U.S. airdate for October.

When their only child was not yet 2, Leslie Gordon and Scott Berns learned he had a condition that strikes only one in several million; fewer than 250 kids are likely to have it worldwide at any moment in time. Fortunately for Sam — and eventually for others — his parents were physicians who quickly set up a foundation and raised $1.25 million to identify the gene that causes progeria. That accomplished, they oversaw development of an experimental drug, then launched its first clinical trials, with children from 16 countries flown in to participate.

At the pic’s start, Sam is 13, the median age of death for progeria sufferers susceptible to strokes and heart attacks. He’s a bright middle-school student interested in music and sports, though his ability to participate in extracurricular activities is limited by his weakening body. The race against time is exacerbated by Gordon’s difficulties in getting her trial-results paper published in a reputable medical journal — due to the extremely small pool of progeria patients, her study doesn’t meet the usual research criteria. Nonetheless, their breakthrough finally gains wide media attention, heralding a turning point for a disorder hitherto without any hope, let alone cure.

Assembly is pro down the line, if not particularly inspired.

Life According to Sam


Production: An HBO Documentary Films presentation of a Fine Films production. (International sales: HBO, Los Angeles.) Produced by Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine, Miriam Weintraub. Executive producer, Sheila Nevins. Directed by Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Sean Fine; editor, Jeff Consiglio; music, Keegan DeWitt; sound, David Hurley. Reviewed on DVD, Santa Barbara, Jan. 31, 2013. (In Sundance Film Festival -- competing.) Running time: 94 MIN.

Cast: With: Sam Berns, Leslie Gordon, Scott Berns, Audrey Gordon.

More Scene

  • Nicole KidmanWarner Bros. Pictures World Premiere

    How James Wan Convinced Nicole Kidman to Star in 'Aquaman'

    While some actors dream of playing a superhero, that wasn’t the case for the cast of “Aquaman.” “I knew nothing about this,” Amber Heard, who plays Mera in the James Wan-directed action film, told Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere. “I knew nothing about comic books in general. I didn’t know anything about this [...]

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Clint Eastwood and Alison Eastwood'The Mule'

    Clint Eastwood: Why Alison Eastwood Came Out of Acting Retirement for Her Dad

    Clint Eastwood’s daughter Alison Eastwood was done with acting after appearing in 2014’s “Finding Harmony.” Or so she thought. It was a Friday night and she and her husband were heading to dinner when her father’s producer Sam Moore called. “He [says], ‘You know, your dad wants you to do this film,” Alison recalls. “I [...]

  • John CenaSports Illustrated Sportsperson of the

    John Cena on WWE's Acceptance by Hollywood and the Professional Sports World

    John Cena says the WWE is finally getting the attention it deserves by Hollywood and the professional sports world. “I’m just glad that no longer are we looked down upon, not only by the sport industry, but by the performing arts industry,” Cena told Variety on Tuesday night in Beverly Hills at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of [...]

  • Steve Carell Welcome to Marwen

    Steve Carell on New Film 'Welcome to Marwen' and Reprising His 'Anchorman' Character

    In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was nearly beaten to death by five men outside of a bar. Left with brain damage and little money to afford therapy, Hogancamp began creating miniature doll versions of himself, his friends, and his attackers as a way to cope. This true story inspired the 2010 documentary “Marwencol” and the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content