Strain: Effects of Sickle Cell Disease (Movie Review)

I watched Strain. It’s a movie on Netflix that aims to educate on sickle cell disease, the effects of sickle cell disease, first aid procedures, and treatment plans. Click here to see it on Netflix.

From the very moment they officially notified us that Ekene had sickle cell disease, I watched each scene with anxiety, and fear that something would happen. Watching him perform a task as simple as combing his hair scared me. When he read in front of the assembly, my heart was in my mouth with every word he spoke. And the scariest thing for me was the crisis happening at the least expected time. Everything is going fine, I’m getting relaxed, enjoying his good health, enjoying watching him be healthy, and boom!!!!!! There is a crisis.

The movie portrays the effect of sickle cell, not just on the patient, but on the parents, siblings, friends, and anybody who cares. The effects of sickle cell disease go beyond the physical injection marks. The lingering taste of drugs, it’s way deeper than that.


There is a strain all-around: Financial strain, emotional strain, mental strain. Missing out on opportunities, and not being able to make certain decisions, because the welfare of the warrior has to be considered. Arguments become more frequent, and events of the past resurface. Then the blame game begins. Whose fault is it? What would have been done differently? Who should have done things differently? Who should own up and accept the blame? The home becomes strained. The blissful home slowly becomes a war front. But someone must take the blame.

Guess who?? Nah!!! It’s not Akon. The blame goes to the one who shouldn’t even receive the blame. The one who had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. The victim of circumstance. The blame might not be outrightly said, it could be very subtle. As subtle as a side-eye when the family can no longer afford to turn on the generator for long hours every day because most of the money was spent on drugs. Or a side-eye when explaining to the person over the phone why the appointment is being canceled even after confirming attendance. Or just a really long stare for being an ‘inconvenience.’

They stop doing what they love: football, video games, playing, basically stopping having fun because it would be too stressful and trigger a crisis. They basically have to put their lives on hold, just to ensure that they keep living. These are just very few of the things I noticed from watching part of Ekene’s life on screen for less than 1 hour 46 minutes. Having watched him go through some of the things mentioned above and more, it was a relief to hear the doctor give them the option of a bone marrow transplant.

It hurt me that Ekene overheard several conversations and arguments and heard himself being described as “misery”, “problem”, and many other not-so-nice adjectives available to whoever was describing him. He watched several fights happening around him, because of him. He was the center of attention, in a negative way. It hurt that every fight and argument was because of him. It hurt him. And it hurt me too.

I have some concerns about how the parents handled the issue of the donor. They should have handled it differently. Ekene didn’t have to be there during that conversation. But his being there contributed to it being a masterpiece and increased the lump in my throat.

I had a lump in my throat with every scene that passed. I am a hard girl, but tears welled up inna mi eyes all through. And after such an ending, the tears escaped. Maybe my hard girl subscription has expired. Or maybe I am an overly emotional person who claims to be a hard girl.

You should see it too. You might feel the way I felt or you would want to come back and tell me I am overly emotional. Either way, I would like to hear/read your thoughts.

Overall, the movie is awesome. Great actors and the makeup was awesome. Their transforming Ekene from a healthy bubbly child to a very sickly boy that triggered tears in my eyes and lumps in my throat is mind-blowing.

Apart from the effect of sickle cell disease, the movie explores other themes like parent/children relationships, family, friendship, and many more.

Let me know what you think when you see it. You can drop your comments here, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


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