39 Pounds of Love would’ve made a better 20/20 or 60 Minutes special than it does a feature-length movie, but it at least trumps the average disease-of-the-week weeper. Ami, an Israeli-American computer animator currently living in Israel, weighs about 39 pounds due to a rare, severe form of muscular dystrophy. When his live-in girlfriend-caretaker, a pretty 21-year-old Romanian woman named Christina, leaves him, Ami goes on an once-in-a-lifetime road trip to reunite with an estranged brother in Texas and to confront the now-elderly doctor who predicted an early death for Ami.
One would be hard-pressed to ask for a more inspiring and touching story. Ami’s survival is itself remarkable; that he drinks, smokes, curses, and has a personality so dynamic that he seems in control of everyone around him is miraculous. But even at 70 minutes, the documentary feels overlong, mostly because of the heavy intercuts of Ami’s banal and undeniably cheesy bird-romance cartoon. And for all the talk leading up to the showdown in Miami between Ami and the 87-year-old Dr. Cordova, the finale is, to say the least, disappointing. That said, 39 Pounds of Love is worth a look; I just wish the filmmakers held to a strict rule: one minute for every pound.
Opens November 23 at Landmark Sunshine