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Dying Young is a 1991 American romance film directed by Joel Schumacher. It is based on a novel of the same name by Marti Leimbach, and stars Julia Roberts and Campbell Scott with Vincent D'Onofrio, Colleen Dewhurst, David Selby, and Ellen Burstyn. The original music score was composed by James Newton Howard, with the main song "Theme from Dying Young" performed by American saxophonist Kenny G. Hilary O'Neil ( Julia Roberts ) is a pretty , outgoing yet cautious young woman who has had little luck in work or love . After recently parting ways with her boyfriend when she caught him cheating , Hilary finds herself living with her eccentric mother (Ellen Burstyn). One day , Hilary answers an ad in a newspaper for a nurse only to find herself being escorted out before the interview starts. Victor Geddes (Campbell Scott) is a well-educated, rich , and shy 28- year - old . As the film progresses, Victor's health worsens progressively, due to leukemia. Despite his father 's protests, Victor hires Hilary to be his live-in caretaker while he undergoes a traumatic course of chemotherapy . Hilary becomes insecure of her ability to care for Victor after her first exposure to the side effects of his chemotherapy treatment. She researches leukemia and stocks healthier food in the kitchen .