Beauty and the Breast: Tackling cancer with heart and humour

Quebec filmmaker Liliana Komorowska demystifies breast cancer and gives it a human face in this touching documentary.

Liliana Komorowska

If you chuckled at the title, that’s alright. And when you I tell you that this is a documentary about breast cancer, don’t feel bad, either.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this is a good opportunity to go see a heartfelt, even humourous meditation on the disease, as recounted by several women afflicted by the beast. Quebec filmmaker (of Polish origin) Liliana Komorowska directed Beauty and the Breast, which demystifies the disease and gives it a human face.

The film introduces us to nine women, some still alive, some beaten by cancer not too long after the film’s completion. Not one of them has the same experience as another — some are committed to trying holistic approaches and refuse to do chemo, others are worried that a full mastectomy will take away much of their femininity, and others just try to go through all the motions (chemo, medication, etc.) with humour.

While a lot of documentaries on such subjects have the tendency to make us feel small and helpless, Beauty and the Breast is a film full of hope. One can’t help but admire these women, who take us through every stage of their cancer treatment, baring all emotional and physical scars, and who manage to keep their good composure and positivity.

This is not to say that the movie won’t make you cry — on the contrary, it is extremely emotional and it hits close to home, even if you don’t know anyone who’s had breast cancer. Ultimately, Beauty and the Breast is a portrait of survival and resilience in the face of an unfair, but not unbeatable, disease. ■


Beauty and the Breast opens Oct. 19

Radina Papukchieva blogs at The Café Phenomenon. @Papukchieva on Twitter.

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