November 16th, 2010
The film step mom beautifully portrays the effects death and dying can have on a
family. Even one like the Harrison's, where the parents are split up, and and a new
women has come into Luke's live. Their will always be different ways of coping with
death and that is shown through all the characters, be it strong willed like Luke and
Jackie, negatively and dramatically like the daughter Anna, or positively and unaware
like the son Ben. All these different ways of coping make this film an ideal one to view
the different ways one can cope.
Throughout the film Stepmom death is shown as both a negative and positive
affecting occurrence. When the main character Jackie Harrison is first told that her
diagnosed cancer has became much worse, she is spiteful and hate-filled. She
resents the fact that her recently divorced husband is now getting married to a younger
woman, she is also angry that her marriage to Luke didn't work out, and is also
saddened at the fact that she will never live to see her children grow up. The positive
aspects of death in this film is that Jackie soon realizes that she has to come to grips
with her inevitable death. This allows her to live her remaining months in peace with
her children and even become happy with Luke and Jena Malone getting married.
In the circumstance on Jackie Harrison, death is not presented as a natural part
of the life cycle. Cancer, is a modern problem with no modern cure as of yet. It
endangers and ends many young lives throughout the world. Jackie was already
diagnosed with cancer a year before, however, when she went for a re-evaluation it
was found that the cancer had re-appeared and had intensified in her body. This
shows that cancerous cells can begin to form at anytime in one's body and is not a
natural part of the life cycle.
In the case of Jackie there are two sides. At first when re-diagnosed she is very
fearful. Not for herself, but rather for her children. Jackie is afraid that she will not be
able to see her children again, and be able to watch them grow up and lead fulfilling
lives. She is delivered more bad news at a dinner by her ex-husband. Luke tells
Jackie that he is to marry Jena Malone. Jackie is angered again and can not bare to
tell Luke that she is in fact dying of cancer and will not be around to raise their
children. Another scene depicting anger is after Ben falls off the play structure and
needs stitches. At the hospital she tries to see her son, but Jena is already there
comforting him. He asks Jena to sing her a song because "Mommy always
does" (Stepmom). As Jackie looks on from outside the room Jena sings for Ben and
she is angered by this and goes home and has a fit in her home.
Jena uncovers Jackie's secret through a conversation they have at her home.
She tells Jena that she is infect going to L.A. to see an oncologist for treatment. Jena is
saddened to hear that the ex-wife is dying of cancer and asks "are you dying?", to
which Jackie replies "Not today…" (Stepmom). This in turn affects Luke who is the next
to find out and thus feels guilty. He feels as though it should have been him and not
Jackie. They decide to tell the children about the cancer together and this scene
provides the most dramatic effect of the movie. Ben takes the news very lightly and is
intrigued as to what his mom is enduring, there is a doubt as to how much Ben knows
about the situation. He thinks it's less serious then it actually is. The daughter Anna, is
immediately angered by the news and storms off. As she heads upstairs Luke yells
"You do not run out on your mother", and she replies "No that's your job" (Stepmom).
This scene is important because it shows how the family as an entirety deals with