Review: Exit: The Right to Die

For our information, Fernand Melgar’s Exit attempts to dispel misconceptions surrounding euthanasia.

Exit: The Right to Die
Photo: First Run/Icarus Films

For our information, Fernand Melgar’s Exit attempts to dispel misconceptions surrounding euthanasia. The only country to allow organizations to conduct legally assisted suicides, Switzerland now serves as an example to the rest world, but Melgar’s film does not brag about the Alpine nation’s progressivism, instead focusing on the great difficulty with which Exit ADMD conducts business: weeding out undesirables (like those who suffer from depression), working with existing patients, and conducting meetings with frustrated sister groups throughout Europe unable to ply their trade. What’s most striking about the film is not so much the pain of people wanting to end their lives but how the arduous relationship between Exit’s “escorts” and the patients under their care distresses the company’s recruits, most of whom are volunteers, including a retired schoolteacher who, over the course of the year, works with a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis to get her to write out a self-deliverance letter in barely legible chicken scratch. There is a sense that Melgar has chosen to follow only the most empathetic volunteers working for Exit, but even the clinical deliverance that closes the film is a striking illustration of Melgar’s thesis that something as exceptional as people who feel that the quality of their lives is beyond unacceptable—and as such warrants humane correction—is something worth thinking about.

Score: 
 Director: Fernand Melgar  Screenwriter: Fernand Melgar  Distributor: First Run/Icarus Films  Running Time: 76 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2005

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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