Moore, Peters star in a fine TV movie


November 04, 1990|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

"The Last, Best Year of My Life" is the first best movie of the November sweeps.

The film, which airs at 9 tonight on WJZ-TV (Channel 13), pretty much has it all. Fine script, sensitive direction, outstanding acting. There are two Emmy performances here.

Mary Tyler Moore plays Wendy Allen, a psychologist who counsels a young woman dying of cancer. The cancer patient, Jane Murray, is played by Bernadette Peters. This is the best dramatic work either has done on television.

Both Murray and Allen are emotionally wounded in their own ways. Murray is an executive in the travel industry, without friends or family. She has a relationship with a married man. But he abandons her on the evening she intended to tell him about her illness. Allen has family and friends, but she has lived a cautious and somewhat superficial life, not getting too deeply attached or involved with others. The therapy turns to friendship. And both find a new and fuller life in their commitment to each other as death closes in on Murray. Their relationship is ultimately such a profound and moving experience that some viewers are going to feel privileged witnessing it.

This is the kind of movie that some cynically call "disease-of-the-week." Don't let such glib labels steer you away. "The Last, Best Year of My Life" is a video song that celebrates lives lived with dignity, courage, vulnerability and compassion.

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