Sunday, March 3, 2019

End Game: Film Review

Released May 4, 2018.
End Game (2018) is a documentary by filmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman.

Set in the San Francisco area, the film profiles the last weeks of life for five people: Mitra, Pat, Thekla, Kym, and Bruce.  These five are either patients receiving services through the UCSF Medical Center or the Zen Hospice Project.

The documentary also includes Dr. B.J. Miller, palliative care physician, discussing the importance of being intentional about the dying process.

End Game also depicts family members trying to find ways to respond to their love one's loss of function, pain, and suffering.

We also observe doctors, nurses and social workers addressing patients' and family members' concerns.

At first glance, viewers might think this documentary is about the physical or legal aspects of end-of-life care. It does touch on these topics, but it's really more about how to retain one's humanity during the dying process and how to address questions about what constitutes quality of life.

Even though five people are depicted in this documentary, more than half of the screen time is devoted to Mitra and her family. Mitra is in her forties and has a husband and young song. Mitra's mother and sister also visit her bedside. Everyone is very torn between focusing on curative care and accepting Mitra's terminal diagnosis and declining health. They cherish her a great deal, and it's heartbreaking to see her young son physically comforting his mother.

The documentary is only 40 minutes long, but the intensity of the subject matter makes that enough time for the viewer to consider a lot of elements about terminal illness, health care, palliative care, hospice, family involvement, and the individual's fears about loss of control and approaching the unknown.

To hear more from BJ Miller, listen to this podcast with Kate Miller and view his 19 minute TedTalk:


Films about Older Adults in the Dying Process

Books about Death and Dying


  1. Although I am not a caretaker currently, I recall my parents final days, and it was difficult! Whatever we can do to help ourselves and others prepare for death is incredibly valuable. We are fortunate to have so many resources available. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Bless you for the support you loaned during your parents' final days. This life passage can have its tender moments and rewards, but it's also intense and can be difficult. Thank you for reading / commenting, Pam.