When filmmaker Alex Sichel is diagnosed with a metastatic breast cancer, she begins a journey of healing and self discovery. She eschews most forms of chemotherapy in favour of holistic healing (she’s a proud Buddhist) and a healthy dose of positive thinking. She stresses out over her quality of life in what could be her final days and about what she will be leaving behind for her daughter and sometimes frustrated husband. Alex’s husband wants to see her happy, but he’s unsure about her methods. Her parents think everything is a terrible idea. The only thing Alex seems in control of is a film project where she has cast actress Lili Taylor as a fictionalized version of herself in a happier, sunnier alternate timeline.

Sichel enlisted the help of filmmaker Elizabeth Giamatti to aid in the completion of A Woman Like Me. It’s essentially three movies in one: a personal diary, a fictional film, and a behind the scenes documentary. Instead of seeming like an overstuffed mess, a great amount of care has been exercised by Giamatti to keep things relevant and on track.

Overall, the film becomes a work of pure catharsis regardless if one agrees with Sichel’s views on her treatment. Alex is clearly a strong woman that has thought long and hard about how she wants to leave an impact once she’s gone. It’s a summation of a life’s work and a deep, meditative reflection on someone coming to grips with their impending death. The bad news hits hard, and her art isn’t always imitating her life, but overall it’s a moving look at how we all deal with disappointment differently.