Thank You for Playing

March 201680 minutes

When Ryan Green, a video game programmer, learns that his young son Joel has cancer, he and his wife begin documenting their emotional journey in the form of an unusually beautiful and poetic video game. THANK YOU FOR PLAYING follows Ryan and his family over two years through the creation of “That Dragon, Cancer” as it evolves from a cathartic exercise into a critically acclaimed work of art that sets the gaming industry abuzz. Lauded as "unimaginably intimate" by The New Yorker and "profoundly moving" by Indiewire, THANK YOU FOR PLAYING is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of art and technology to document profound experiences in the modern age.
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Rotten Tomatoes® score
Audio language
English (Stereo)
English [CC]
Rental Period
Start within 30 days, finish within 48 hours.
Eligible for Family Library
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Run time
80 minutes
A WOMAN LIKE ME begins with filmmaker Alex Sichel’s attempts to come to terms with her diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer by turning a newly purchased camcorder on herself and her family. As she records what is happening around her and to her, Alex also begins to keep a video diary of her struggle to accept a rapidly changing reality. On camera, she takes her regimen of cancer medication one day, only to learn a few weeks later that the cancer has progressed. The camera is there as she refuses the next round of chemotherapy and goes in search of alternatives, from homeopaths and acupuncturists to energy healers who believe she can heal herself with no help from Western medicine. We are introduced to Alex’s husband, Erich, who struggles mightily with his wife’s prognosis (and some of her decisions about treatment), and her daughter, Anastasia, just entering kindergarten. We meet Alex’s aging parents and learn about their fervent hope that Alex will decide to follow her doctors’ advice, and we meet her sisters, Sylvia, with whom she has made films in the past, and Bettina, who questions Alex’s ability to navigate between alternative and traditional treatments. We hear from doctors and nurses, and we follow Alex to a meditation retreat at a Buddhist temple where she searches for a way to face her death sentence. Amidst the chaos of an upended life, Alex begins to think about a fictional character named Anna, who keeps appearing in her mind’s eye, offering a different perspective. The fictional Anna is a lot like the real Alex, but she seems to have a much better attitude about her incurable disease. Alex begins to wonder aloud if the act of bringing Anna to life on screen might offer the possibility of transforming her own relationship to cancer. This story takes place over the course of a year in which Alex struggles to find a way to cure her incurable cancer while at the same time she begins to write and prepare to shoot a fictional film about the alter ego she has created. The documentary camera eventually follows Alex on set as she creates a new version of her story, frame by frame. As Alex rehearses and shoots versions of her life she has seen only in her imagination, we begin to suspect that Anna can help Alex find the courage to face the questions she hasn’t been able to face. Maybe, through watching Anna do so, Alex will be better able to talk to her daughter about death, or understand more fully her husband’s struggle (and sometimes inappropriate ways of coping); maybe, through Anna, Alex can even have the magical experience of living forever. This is a movie about two characters, one fictional, one real, and we intend for the thematic and emotional resonances between the two to create the central narrative arc of the film: the story of a filmmaker finding, through her imagination, a way to live gracefully with a ticking time bomb.
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