Veronika Deklava (Sarah Michelle Gellar) appears to have it all. She’s successful and attractive — with a high-paying corporate job, a gorgeous New York apartment, and loads of dating prospects. To those who seek success for the sake of having it, they’d see Veronika as someone who wants for nothing. So why does she want to die? Why does she swallow a pill cocktail and then sends an alarming email? She wakes up at Villette, an elite mental health facility, where she receives horrible news: her pill cocktail has caused irreversible damaged to her heart. How irreversible? She will die soon, out of nowhere, and no one can do anything about it. Alarmed, Veronika does things in her own terms. She still wants to end her life, but that’s before she meets a gorgeous and mysterious patient (Jonathan Tucker) and connects with her doctor (David Thewlis) and a fellow patient (Erika Christensen). She has the ultimate epiphany: she wants to live. That’s not an option though. If she must die, then she wants to live every single moment as though it were her last, but she can’t do that while locked up in Villette, can she?
I had my pick of Ammy videos to praise. This seems like an odd choice given the current pandemic, but if you’re familiar with Paulo Coelho, you’d know that his books are a rare mixture of literary, heartwarming, philosophical and ultimately encouraging. This adaptation of the popular novel isn’t as great as the book, but it’s still quite good — the perfect pick-me-up for the current climate. Sarah Michelle Gellar is wonderful as Veronika. Even though she isn’t as young as the book character, it takes a seasoned actress to express the amount of pathos it takes to portray such a complex character. (And yes, she looks young enough to play a twenty-four-year-old.) Her journey to self-discovery is enlightening and heartbreaking at the same time. The story also tackles the primary theme of the book — how material success does not equate to happiness. Dreams and success are great things to have, but only if they coincide with your values. If you do it because you feel you ought to, or to fulfill some external desire (your parents’ expectations, society’s demands, etc), or to compete with and be better than others, then it won’t fulfill you. Just make sure that whatever you do in life brings you pleasure and joy. I enjoyed this film, and the last scenes are touching and beautiful. Downsides? It’s rushed in some areas. The book isn’t long. Most of Coelho’s books are 55K words long or less, but the film rushes on the parts that matter most. For instance, I would’ve liked more Veronika scenes prior to Villette. Instead, we get a five-minute intro into her inner psyche as she goes about her empty life. Other than that, I cannot recommend VERONIKA DECIDES TO DIE enough. Four out of five caramelized cinnamon cold brew iced coffees!