The Reel Review


A cash-strapped, emotionally aloof electrician’s life changes when his estranged uncle offers to pay off his debts if he will live in a small community near Halifax, Nova Scotia for a year. Once there, he learns he has inherited his family’s gift of healing – something he isn’t sure he wants until he meets a crafty teenage girl with terminal cancer – and a plan. Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Camilla Luddington, and Jonathan Pryce star in this family dramedy.

Camilla Luddington and Oliver Jackson-Cohen in The Healer

With an overly melodramatic score, sunny visuals of Canada’s most populous maritime province and a sugary-sweet story, The Healer is so corny you’d expect to find it on The Hallmark Channel. But it also is an endearing and entertaining crowd pleaser with a tremendous heart. Jackson-Cohen (Wilderness, The Haunting of Hill House) is the man uncertain whether he wants his newly-discovered gift, with Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy, True Blood) the super cute, local veterinarian who befriends him and young Kaitlyn Bernard (The Lake, Spontaneous) as Abigail, the spunky teenage girl with cancer whose scheme ends up creating some magic of its own.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Kaitlyn Bernard in The Healer

No, the story doesn’t always make sense and you can see the sweet but obvious ending coming from a mile away, but at a time when the world seems rife with negativity, The Healer is a sweet reminder about the enduring power of generosity and kindness, doing so without coming off as preachy or overbearing. Prepare to happy cry.


The late Paul Newman with children at one of the Seriousfun camps.

The Healer is the first movie to donate 100% of its net proceeds to charity – among them, the SeriousFun Children’s Network –, a global network of 30 camps and programs founded by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman for children living with cancer and other serious illnesses. The film has raised $4.5 million for the charity.

Filmmaker and philanthropist Paco Arango and Newman’s Own, the food brand he helped create with Newman and writer A.E. Hotchner

The Healer writer/director Paco Arango is also a philanthropist, founding the Aladina Foundation in 2006, and after meeting Newman a year later, helping to create the food brand Newman’s Own, which gives all its profits, more than $540 million, to charities.

Abigal Bryant, the inspiration for the character Abigail in The Healer

• The character of Abigail was inspired by Abigail Bryant, who died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2014 at the age of 20, following a lengthy battle with cancer. Writer/director Paco Arango was so touched by her story that he included the poem that Abigail wrote in the film.

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