Jane Murray (Bernadette Pe ters) is a single career woman who loses her married lover and her future--when she learns she has liver cancer--almost simultaneously.
Wendy Allen (Mary Tyler Moore) is a psychologist who accepts Jane as a patient only reluctantly, fearing the experience will disrupt her orderly life and tap the pain she felt as a child when her father died of cancer.
“The Last Best Year” is the sweet, gentle and inevitably teary story of the symbiotic bond established by these two women brought together by tragedy, each gaining strength from the other as the dying Jane seeks to put her life in order and Wendy seeks the resolve to confront her own demons.
David Rintels wrote and produced this heartfelt ABC movie, drawing from the experiences of his psychotherapist wife, Victoria Riskin, who gets executive producer’s credit here. It airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on Channels 7, 3, 10 and 42.
Directed by John Erman, “The Last Best Year” offers poignancy, intelligence and spiritual intimacy along with appealing performances by Peters and Moore as women whose friendship transcends their therapist-patient relationship. Their closeness is by far the story’s strongest element.
There is never any attempt to soften Jane’s physical suffering. Yet somehow all of this glowing and revelation in the shadow of adversity--the terminal patient feeling renewal even as her life is ebbing--echoes all too familiarly. There is simply never any doubt where the story is going, or that you’ll be sobbing when it gets there. Keep those tissues handy.