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Friday, April 17, 2015

TRANSFATTY LIVES

A Tribeca Film Festival 2015 Selection

By D.E. Levine

This is a fascinating first person chronicle of serious illness.  The central character, Patrick Sean O'Brien was making a name for himself as a New York DJ, filmmaker and Internet personality.

Only 30 in 2005 when neuromuscular motor skills began to rapidly decline affecting his speech and motor skills he decides to "stay positive" after being diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Confined to a wheelchair and forced to move out of NYC to be closer to his family in Maryland he , approaches his illness with humor and positivity, making an type of art project out of his battle with the disease.

However, despite his emotionally upbeat attitude, we are witness to his declining health, his inability to swallow (necessitating a feeding tube) and his inability to breath (necessitating a ventilator).

Despite all of this, he meets a girl, has a relationship and gets her pregnant, which gives him a reason to stay alive.

The film does not go deep enough and while showing a true picture of some things, fails to follow through on the relationship after the mother and baby move to Florida and the impact his disease has on his immediate family.

O'Brien has outlived his prognosis with humor and wit despite the fact that he can no longer type manually and has to use eye pupil movements to convey instructions.  Despite his infirmity, TransFatty's mind and sense of humor remain intact.