“Extremis” is Latin for “at the point of death.” It is also the name of an unflinching documentary available on Netflix about two families at a hospital struggling to decide whether to take their loved one off the machines that are keeping them alive.

The power of the documentary is in its details. There is no narration. There is no music soundtrack. Instead, film viewers hear quiet conversations in hushed tones and the sound of the machines doing their work.

It is these moments that tell an intimate story. Hands play a large role. A hand gently applies a cold compress to a patient’s forehead. Another patient tries to use a pen to write a message, but finds she cannot. An unresponsive hand lies still as a doctor urges a patient to squeeze it if she can understand what she is saying.

The filmmakers never reveal the location of the hospital. The patients’ last names aren’t used. They are identified by their first names “Donna” and “Selena.” The decisions they face could be ours to make at any time. The anguish on their faces is palpable as they try to figure out what their loved ones want. (…) Read Full Publication Here

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