These days, the Ice Bucket Challenge has taken over social media. Designed to increase awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the challenge involves sitting still while a bucket of ice water is dumped over the participants head. It also is responsible for millions of dollars for ALS research.
“37: A Final Promise,” director Randall Batinkoff’s latest film which is based on real events, also creates awareness of this terrible condition. Batinkoff also stars as Adam Webb, a rock star that set an unusual milestone for himself. Tattooed on his chest is the number 37; that’s the age that Webb plans to end his life.
Adam’s self-imposed timeline change after he meets Jemma Johnstone (Scottie Thompson), a sweet young lady who seems just a little bit aloof. Adam pursues her, though, and ultimately learns she has ALS. An ironic relationship forms between the rocker with a death wish and the woman who would give anything for more time.
Based on the novel “How Angels Die” by Guy Blews, “37: A Final Promise” is a rather unconventional love story. Unlike the characters in “The Fault in Our Stars,” the protagonist in this piece can’t cope with a childhood guilt, so he gives himself a time limit.
Scottie Thompson turns in a nicely nuanced performance as Jemma. ALS is a nasty disease that affects everyone differently. The typical patient dies a short time after diagnosis, but Stephen Hawking has lived with the condition for decades. Thompson shows how a vibrant young woman copes with weakening muscles and the constant threat of falling.
Tricia Helfer stands out as Christina, Jemma’s overprotective sister. Though she’s a fan of Adam’s music, she doesn’t trust his intentions towards her sister. In truth, Christina’s stifling attention might be crippling Jemma more than her degenerative disease.
Batinkoff handles his directing and acting duties quite well here, especially since this piece is based on real events. The romantic relationship at the core of the story develops gently and naturally. Jemma doesn’t want to be pitied; she simply wants to enjoy every moment. She forces Adam to reexamine his unusual goal.
“37: A Final Promise” shows you don’t need a bucket of water to learn more about ALS. This film may just inspire viewers to contribute to the ongoing research efforts or at least learn more about the condition.