Five is a special program on Lifetime that consists of five short films concerning breast cancer. Each story has a different set of characters dealing with breast cancer and its impact. There is one character who appears in all five stories and this is Pearl (Jeanne Tripplehorn) who is an oncologist. There is a separate director for each of the films and included are Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Alicia Keyes. The acting and the subject matter of these stories make for compelling viewing.
The first segment is titled "Charlotte" and is directed by Aniston. It tells the story of Charlotte (Ginnifer Goodwin) who has breast cancer. The time is July 1969 when the first man walked on the moon. Charlotte is dying and her family tries to accept her impending death. Lost in the emotional chaos of the day is Charlotte's daughter Pearl (Ava Acres).
Charlotte's father (Josh Holloway) and his mother-in-law (Annie Potts) are suffering themselves, so they have no time to explain the situation to this young girl. Pearl has drawn a picture and she wants to show it to her mother but she keeps being told her mother is resting. How she finally makes contact is the core of the story.
The next segment is titled "Mia" and it is the story of a woman named Mia (Patricia Clarkson) who has survived stage four breast cancer. Her story starts with her wedding day as she marries Mitch (Tony Shalhoub). It is a glorious day and she is radiant. Then the story goes back to a few months prior to the wedding, then a few months prior to that, and so on.
With these back views we get a chance to see how Mia has progressed from diagnosis to cure. We also get a chance to see the range of Clarkson's talent as she explores the different facets of this woman's personality as she faces potential tragedy.
Other segments are titled "Lilli" and "Cheyanne," which are directed by Keyes and Patty Jenkins. Lilli is a successful businesswoman who has made it on her own. Now she has been diagnosed with cancer and she is determined to face that alone also. This does not sit well with her older sister (Tracee Ellis Ross) or her mother (Jenifer Lewis).
Cheyanne (Lyndsy Fonseca) fears her husband Tommy (Taylor Kinney) will not love her if she has her breasts removed. They have a very physical relationship and this adds to her insecurities. This segment is one of the most touching and impactful of all the stories.
The last segment is titled "Pearl" and shows the doctor facing her own mortality as she too is diagnosed. In a full circle approach, she too has to break the news to her own small daughter. In this case, her husband (Alan Ruck) is very much a part of the conversation.
The segments are presented in a direct way and they do play on your emotions. It comes with the territory. There is no effort to make them maudlin or melodramatic. They are what they are. Perhaps some viewer might lock on to the message that early detection is the key to success which would certainly validate even more these stories being presented.
The show is important because it stresses breast cancer awareness, and that is its purpose. Getting its message of hope out there is a fine achievement, and all involved are to be commended.
Five premieres on Lifetime, October 10 at 9PM.
Jackie K Cooper