Diego has been fighting cancer for a decade. The chemo has helped keep it at bay but is no longer working. The only chance he’s got is a bone marrow transplant but Diego doesn’t want to die in a hospital. To do nothing, his doctor warns him, means things will happen very quickly. In months.
Diego (Willem Dafoe) is a talented film maker who has managed to alienate a great number of his friends and family during his decade-long battle with cancer. But he somehow stumbles into a relationship and marries quickly – til death do them part. And then, having found the will to live in a beautiful woman, he goes to Seattle to face treatment.
Writer-director Hector Babenco is telling his own story in My Hindu Friend though he gives the character another name. His 1985 film Kiss of the Spider Woman was nominated for 4 Oscars, including best picture and best director, and won William Hurt best actor. 1987’s Ironweed earned acting noms for both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. My Hindu Friend was Babenco’s last film.
Have you ever noticed that when someone dies we forget every single thing we ever bitched about them and start saying things like “her smile lit up a room”? And when someone has cancer we call them a “brave warrior” and back track on the whole “Karen’s a narcissist” agenda? Well this film doesn’t paint over the ugly portrait. It takes a ‘warts and all’ approach to the whole cancer crusader bit and Dafoe is of course up for both sides of the coin.
My Hindu Friend is a deep-dive into what makes life worth living – love, art, and how for some of us, the two are different words for the same thing. It’s a frank and often raw assessment of one’s life and the meaning we give it when it’s on being threatened with extinction.