Death: A Love Story
Director: Michelle LeBrun
- 1999 Sundance Film Festival
Michelle Le Brun and Mel Howard had only been married two years when they received the devastating news that Mel, in his late fifties, had progressive liver cancer. With their new video camera, they decide to document their uncertain journey. Death: A Love Story starts as a search for a cure, utilizing both traditional and alternative medicine, but ends as a serene and thought-provoking exploration of the struggle we must all one day endure.
With camera in hand, Michelle accompanies Mel on his medical visits, only to find that their doctors quickly discount alternative medicine. As hard as they try to avoid chemotherapy, they are told they must go through with the treatments for Mel to remain eligible for a liver transplant, his only chance at survival.
After six months of chemotherapy, holistic medicine, and introspective searching, Mel finally gets the news that a liver is available. The operation is a success, but two weeks into recovery, rejection sets in. Michelle is told it is only a matter of time.
In the final moments, Michelle takes us directly to Mel’s deathbed by way of audio tape recorder. He is surprisingly alert and peaceful. He shares what he has learned on his journey in search of dignity and grace in the face of death. The final scenes of Death: A Love Story consist only of imagery, poetry, and Mel’s soft voice, dramatically documenting one of the rare instances when death feels like a natural extension rather than the end of life.
Michelle LeBrun, Director
Death: A Love Story marks Michelle LeBrun’s debut as a filmmaker; she directed, produced, wrote, and photographed this very personal documentary. Previously, she associate-produced and also acted in The Gifted (Cannes, 1997) and The Presto Brothers, directed by John Pleshette. LeBrun hails from Boston, where she has worked as an actor, performance artist, dance therapist, and creative arts educator. She has delivered seminars nationwide on the use of a multidisciplinary approach to the arts in education.