If you must make a movie about a mother dying of cancer, you’d better perform an exceedingly nimble dance through the minefield of clichs already planted by weepies such as One True Thing and Stepmom. The matriarch here is Anita Bergman, played by Sally Field. (The press notes inform us that Field has “virtually 100% name recognition among U.S. adults over 25,” the transformation from actress to commercial brand now apparently complete.) Anita is in the final stages of ovarian cancer and has chosen to die at home; her four adult children descend upon her suburban Craftsman bungalow for an emotional, and sometimes antagonistic, 14-day vigil.
Writer-director Steve Stockman manages to keep a fairly tight rein on the melodrama. Two Weeks doesn’t flinch from the unromantic physical manifestations of illness—puking and bowel obstructions—and it recognizes the anxiety-laced black humor that pulls the Bergman siblings through this drawn-out ordeal. (The family, for instance, plays poker using Anita’s many-colored pills as chips.) But the well-intentioned screenplay is all over the map, with many scenes too truncated to go anywhere dramatically or emotionally. Is a cancer movie that leaves you dry-eyed an oxymoron? (Opens Fri; Regal Union Square 14.) — Tom Beer