Directed by Hannah Marks, and starring Mia Isaac, John Cho, and Kaya Scodelario, Don’t Make Me Go is a family drama, about a father and daughter who embark on a road trip following a cancer diagnosis. The movie arrives on Amazon Prime Video today, having made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, and is a touching account of love and parenting in the face of tragic circumstances.
In the movie, Max Park is a single father, raising his teenage daughter, Wally. He’s doing his best, despite Wally’s teenage misadventures, and their relationship is pretty good.
One day, Max goes to the hospital, after suffering from headaches. After the doctor studies his brain scans, she informs Max that he has a tumour, which is operable (but risky), and he may not have long to live.
Facing the prospect of potentially having less than a year ahead of him, Max decides to spend quality time with Wally. He has a college reunion lined up in New Orleans, so he packs up the car and takes her on a road trip across the country, promising to teach her how to drive along the way.
But Max has an ulterior motive for going to the college reunion, and it’s not just an excuse to spend a few days on the road with his daughter. Max hopes to get in touch with Wally’s estranged mother, Nicole, who he believes may be in attendance at the reunion.
Although Nicole walked out on him when Wally was a baby, Max believes now is the right time for mother and daughter to reconnect. Max is worried that once he is gone, Wally will be all alone, so an impromptu reunion could be the best option for his daughter, in light of this very bad situation.
Beautifully told, expertly acted, and featuring an emotionally charged narrative, Don’t Make Me Go is a powerful movie about a father trying to do right by his daughter. The film looks at the pain, fear, and heartache of a terrible diagnosis, as well as the unshakable bond between two family members who mean the world to each other.
Not an easy watch by any stretch, and featuring one very unexpected, gut-punching moment, guaranteed to knock the wind out of anyone’s sails, Don’t Make Me Go is a compelling and truly captivating picture. It is a tearjerker (you have been warned), but it is well worth your time if you give it a go.
The majority of the movie is about the road trip and about bringing Max and Wally together. As the story unfolds and the pair hit the road, they find some common ground, get to know each other better, and spiritually and metaphorically grow along the way.
None of this is particularly original storytelling, as there are other road movies out there that do this kind of thing, but everything here is handled very well. The characters are likeable, their situation becomes involving, and there is a general sense the movie is doing everything it can to ensure this familiar tale is retold in an interesting way.
Sure, some audiences will have seen this story played out a number of times before, but that never stops Don’t Make Me Go from delivering. This film is confident in its approach, knows how to present its characters and its premise with ease, and understands how to get to the heart of its story.
John Cho takes on the role of Max, while Mia Isaac plays Wally. The pair have a great onscreen rapport and it isn’t difficult to believe they are father and daughter.
A story like this one, lives and dies by its casting, and I’m happy to say the casting director nailed things here. Isaac is a relative newcomer, but makes an impression as Wally, while Cho continues to shine as he has done in many roles previously.
The film also benefits from some strong cinematography, good pacing, and a superb soundtrack. While the movie’s subject matter might be difficult to watch at times, the film does its level best to ensure a smooth ride in every other department.
Some may not wish to view a film with such a difficult subject matter (which is perfectly understandable), but if you do give Don’t Make Me Go a couple of hours of your time, you will find it to be a poignant, thought-provoking piece of film.
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