The Documentary 39 Pounds of Love provides viewers a rare glimpse at a life well lived despite severe disability. This documentary follows the cross-country travels of Ami Ankilewitz, a 34 year old man with a rare form of the neuromuscular disease SMA/2 (spinal muscular atrophy).
Recovering from the pain of unrequited romantic love, Ami becomes determined to search for and meet the physician who told his mother that he would only live to be 6 years old. Despite objections of his mother and friends due to the potential dangerousness of this trip to Ami’s health, Ami travelled from Isreal to the U.S. Ami was accompanied by a group of friends who act as his caretakers, while also documenting his journey. As he travelled, Ami met many people, reconciled with his estranged brother, and realized his dream to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle along the way.
Although Ami could only move one finger on hand, he worked as a animator in Isreal. During the film, clips of a beautifully conceived and animated story give the viewer a metaphorical view of falling in love, heartbreak, and the journey to healing. Despite the devastation to his physical body, Ami shared with viewers the depth of his human emotion and spirit through his art.
Parents should be aware that there are scenes with strong language, as well as scenes showing party behavior. In addition, the film honestly portrays the ravages of SMA to Ami’s body, the difficulties of living with this disease, and the misunderstanding that he often faced as a man living with disability. Parents may wish to view this movie to determine suitability before sharing it with children.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Ami Anikilewitz passed away at age 41. Before doing so, he gave us a sometimes funny, always poignant view of the resiliency of the human spirit and the power of love to bond people together. I highly recommend the film 39 Pounds of Love.
39 Pounds of Love, (n.d.). Website. http://www.39poundsoflove.com/main.html . Retrieved 1/18/13.
Ankilewitz, A., (2005) 39 Pounds of Love DVD. HBO/Cinemax Documentary Films.
Blondy, B., (2009). ’29 Pounds of Love’ star dies at 41. ‘Love is the essence of our existence,’ said Ami Ankilewitz. Jerusalem Post.
FTC Disclosure: The reviewer borrowed this DVD from her local library at no cost.