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Jody Brettkelly Headshot

Angie's Choice

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There's no doubt now that Angelina Jolie is superhuman. Just four days after she had a double mastectomy she was back at work doing storyboards for the movie she's currently directing.

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Photo: Jody Brettkelly, Berlin Film Festival

On Tuesday in an Op-ed titled "My Medical Choice" for The New York Times, Jolie wrote that she has spent the last three months undergoing a preventative double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She'd lost her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, to breast cancer at age 56 and after learning from doctors of her own high risk of both breast (87%) and ovarian cancers (50%) elected to undergo the major surgery.

In the Bay Area, California where I live, one in seven women get breast cancer so it's something that is very much part of our lives or our friends' lives.

Angelina's decision is one I hope we could all make. Some have said it's not really "brave" because it's the only decision you could make but I've seen friends who've had reconstructive surgery and it's a bitch. On the other hand, is some of what underlies the "she's so brave" comments is that she's beautiful and so the sacrifice counts more? I hope not.

One thing that's always fascinated me about Angie, as she's apparently called by her friends, is that usually she's seen as not relatable.

Why is that? "It's great she made this statement, but otherwise she doesn't interest me" is the comment I've heard this week.

She has beauty (Those eyes! Those lips! That skin! That hair!) and talent beyond the normal order of things but her beauty manages to eclipse her talent. (Elizabeth Taylor seemed to circumvent that somehow.) I find myself never opting to go to her movies. Girl Interrupted being the exception where she almost succeeds in making herself less attractive with the aid of badly peroxided hair, allowing you to concentrate on her character. In some ways, now, she could only play herself, one of the ten most famous, most identifiable people on earth.

Why is that? Is it partly because she hasn't been forgiven for "stealing" Brad from "our Jen" who is the most relatable woman on earth who we just know would make us the best margarita ever and gossip and giggle all night on her white couches, if only we knew her. That of course is blatant sexism because it was Brad who owed loyalty to Jen and he seemed to walk away blameless.

Do we suspect Angie is a "a man's woman" rather than a "woman's woman"? A person who's never taken any shit from a man and if we complained a-la-Bridget Jones about our hopeless boyfriend, she would just say "He's not into you." End of discussion.

In Berlin I went to the premiere of Angelina Jolie's directorial debut, In The Land of Blood and Honey, a love story set against the backdrop of the Bosnian war. Though overly long and featuring actors who lacked charisma, the movie was incredibly searing (horrific rape scenes) and honestly and uncomfortably portrayed a woman who slept with the enemy to save her life. The movie was pretty much panned and seen only by critics but I think a lot of the criticism was because Angelina Jolie made it.

Well, whatever our complicated "relationship" with her, this week she used her superpowers again for good. Yes, good on you Ang.

Presented by Breast Cancer Campaign