‘Exit: The Right to Die’


No one here gets out alive, as Jim Morrison put it before the End, though in Switzerland one at least has the chance of booking a smoother passage from insufferable pain to whatever comes next. Filmed and edited with near anesthetic calm, Fernand Melgar’s documentary meditation on the work of Swiss euthanasia outfit Exit ADMD doesn’t so much argue for the legalization of assisted suicide as recline comfortably in the knowledge that this firm’s devoted “escorts” are here to direct terminal patients toward that shining light down the hall. Exit‘s lengthy scenes of conversation between staffers and potential clients establish that not just anyone can be shown the door: Years of clinical depression, for instance, don’t merit one’s membership in the group and neither does a daredevil parasailing hobby. But terminal disease, as in the case of a frail old woman whose administered cocktail puts a tasteful end to her life and also to the film, can qualify the patient to receive the last supper of her choice. The volunteer escorts’ complaints of discomfort—”I’m exhausted after every assisted suicide,” one says—appear at least as urgent as the clients’, although Melgar leaves us thinking that some measure of bourgeois selectivity on the part of Exit or Exit may account for the reaper’s relatively charming performance here.

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