comrade_yui’s review published on Letterboxd:
for the first couple times i saw this film back in 2015, i considered natalie portman's character of lauren to be fairly superfluous, a melodramatic deviation in this epic story of male egos.
i don't think that anymore, because my little sister died tonight, doing the same exact thing that portman's character did.
for the last year or so i couldn't help but see my sister in this lauren character. when we see her in the film, she's panicking over seemingly minor things like being late to seeing her dad or the color of her barrettes. but i understood at that point that she was a deeply unstable child, the same way as my sister. that kind of sudden onset of mania, that bipolar behavior, is something that i've seen my sister have to suffer through many times. she had an extremely hard life, had to live through so much trauma. and yes, she had attempted suicide multiple times in her life, and i was thankful every single time that she didn't succeed. natalie portman's portrayal of lauren really began to speak to me as something real from my own life, like a lot of the obsessively-detailed things in michael mann films tend to do, even right down to the neglectful father and the over-worked and over-medicated mother. i was so thankful that lauren and my sister both survived their suicide attempts and got to live another day, despite all the world's hardships. mann's film gave me hope that there would always be a force for good like vincent hanna to help out someone like my sister in her darkest hours when she felt like she couldn't talk to anyone. all i could do was to try and be there for her as much as i could, she deserved that much after a life of abuse and anxiety and depression. i was a three-time suicide survivor as well. i had faith, like vincent hanna did, that things would be okay.
my little sister put herself in a coma for the last few days, and died in the hospital tonight. i was there for her when she passed. i'm not some super-competent person like vincent hanna is, i couldn't be there soon enough to stop her from destroying herself. when i think about it now, it's different. lauren's able to live at the end of heat; in what state and for how long, we don't know. but she had people who loved her, despite their own internal flaws. she's a person who obviously has deep emotional distress and isolation, she had the best los angeles cop for a dad, and even with that, she barely made it. at the end of it all, lauren got lucky. my sister didn't. sometimes things shake out that way. sometimes things aren't fair.
but i know from heat and several other michael mann films that there's a real, tangible, repeated truth: life is short, and whatever time you get is luck. my sister only lived to be barely 18 years old. she didn't have a lot of time, but she lived intensely and fiercely like all mann protagonists do. she played by her own rules, and i was lucky to be her sister and read her books and show her movies and share music and play videogames together.
i was there when my sister was born, and today i was there when she died. i know that she's still out there in the universe somewhere, having a great time with people like her, like lauren. i know that i tried my best to help her, and sometimes that's not enough, and that's okay. i know that i will see her again someday.
i am alone today, but i am not lonely.