The worst of times about CF is told emotionally.
The opening credits of “Salt In My Soul” explain how Mallory Smith (1992-2017) secretly recorded her struggle with cystic fibrosis (CF) in her diaries, computer, and audio recordings, and how in her final hours, she was given an experimental treatment, which would help fight against superbugs.
This documentary is a sad and poignant film that expresses the sadness and struggles of people with the disease. For those of us, who don’t have it, we should be lucky we’re deathly, because there are those who aren’t, and we should respect them. “Salt In My Soul” makes it explicit. It’s about one girl’s hardships through her short life, and how she lived it through the best of times and the worst of times.
According to the facts, the life expectancy for CF would be about 17 years. You would be lucky if you made it past 21, and you would be unlucky if you died much younger. Australian research says that surfers with CF can live longer, because of how beneficial salt water is. And going under water in Maui seemed to help Mallory become symptom free.
Her father Mark gave her procession therapy, in which he had to pound her chest in order to move the mucus out of the wrong areas. Her mother Diane became a CF advocate. And her brother Micah never realized how serious this disease was until he was older. It’s natural for a youngster to not realize until they come of age.
There are many side effects to her disease, including weight loss and her coughing up blood (which is unsettling, especially the picture examples). And there are many other diseases, which give CF the upper hand. This girl has been in the hospital for most of her life, but she has been able to fight these diseases with antibiotics.
She was still able to do sports, have fun with her friends, have a romance with Jack, and even graduate from high school. And when she was a freshman in Stanford, she was given a drug that helped her lungs, which kept her away from the hospital for the longest time since she was ten-years-old.
Another known fact about cystic fibrosis is that patients have to be six feet apart from each other. I first learned about it from “Five Feet Apart,” which had tears and a forbidden love story, but had to be so flimsy in its narrative. “Salt In My Soul” has more humanity than that film, because of the struggles and pains that I can’t imagine, or I don’t want to. The documents and recordings allow us to acknowledge how Mallory Smith wants to live her life without being scared of the disease, while being required to take the treatments.
But even in her downfalls, she was still inspired to become a writer with two books: “The Gottlieb Native Garden: A California Love Story” and “Salt In My Soul: An Unfinished Life,” which this doc was based off of. The movie shows us CF through the perspectives of Mallory, her parents, friends, doctors, and teachers, and all of them express their emotions sincerely.
“Five Feet Apart” was a missed opportunity, whereas “Salt In My Soul” is a real tearjerker. Kudos to director Will Battersby for introducing us to Mallory and what this disease does to people. It’s Hell.
Playing In New York and Los Angeles This Friday
Streaming on VOD January 25
Special 7:30 PM Screening at The Showroom in Asbury Park, NJ February 6
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