Making the Grades
DIRECTOR TOM SHADYAC (whose credits include Patch Adams) takes a different look at the medical profession with his thriller, Dragonfly. Kevin Costner stars as Dr. Joe Darrow, a busy emergency room doctor dealing with the harsh realities of the here and now, and not given to thinking about the realities of heaven. But all that changes when his wife Emily (Susanna Thompson), an accredited pediatrician, is killed while working with a Red Cross group in Venezuela. Unwilling to face his need to grieve, the physician is soon barking orders in the ER, over-stepping boundaries, and refusing to treat patients he deems not willing to live. Then he encounters one of his wife's former patients in the oncology ward.
Following a near death experience, the sick child scribbles squiggly crosses on countless sheets of paper and gives the doctor hints of messages from another world. However, nursing staff discourage the discussion of a "bright light and tunnel." When Darrow discovers the same symbol in the room of another patient, he tries to decipher its meaning but his fixated interrogation of the young patients soon has him swimming in hot water with hospital administrators.
Kathy Bates plays his concerned but pragmatic next-door neighbor. Having dealt with her own loss, she worries that Emily's death has Darrow teetering on the edge of insanity. Linda Hunt is the diminutive Catholic nun whose research of near death occurrences opens the practitioner's unbelieving eyes to the possibility of other spheres.
As he probes into the plausibility of an afterlife and the ability of the deceased to communicate with the living, this older teen/adult movie relies on suspense and scenes that make you jump to unfold the doctor's panged existence. The film presents brief incidents of danger in the South American jungle, a few intense interactions in the hospital, and also contains limited language and sexual content issues.
While hardcore proof of a hereafter may seem as elusive as the skittish insect, Dragonfly delves into the possibility of a realm that exists even without substantiation, and its power to change the lives of the living.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Dragonfly.
What importance do funeral/memorial services have in helping a person through the grieving process, and in finding closure with the death of a loved one?
During a family dinner, Dr. Darrow’s medical siblings give their own opinions on death. In our era of medical tests like EKGs and brainwave scanners, how do we measure death? At what point should we stop intervention?
The harvesting of organs is a lifesaving procedure for patients waiting for transplants. How do you feel about this practice? Would you be concerned about doctors declaring an organ donor medically dead too soon? Have you signed a donor card?
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Dragonfly.
The Sixth Sense and The Others uncover interactions with the previously deceased. Kathy Bates can also be seen in A Civil Action, a film about families probing into the deaths of their children from possible water contamination. Kevin Costner deals with suspense of another kind in Thirteen Days, a look at the Cuban missile crisis.