Sunday, December 16, 2012

SCN: Old-age gets the animated treatment in Ignacio Ferreras' moving WRINKLES

WRINKLES, a new Spanish animated movie that makes its debut at Spanish Cinema Now today, Sunday, December 16, at 2pm, is based on a prize-winning graphic novel by Paco Roca, about a retired bank executive whose Alzheimer's becomes too much for his son's family to handle, and so he is shipped off to a nursing facility. Yes, this is not your everyday, kid-friendly animation tale. (Together with Consuming Spirits, which just opened this week, these two films may constitute, not a trend -- that would take three -- but at least an alternative.)

As directed by Ignacio Ferreras, shown at left, the movie has a simply terrific beginning -- taking place in a bank as a loan is being negotiated -- which then pulls you up short. The animation here is simple, old-fashioned and easy to watch, if not particularly distinguished in any way. There are some cute, funny, sweet touches every so often that keep you alert, but what pulls you in and holds you are the subject, the story and the characters of the residents of this home, brought to relatively specific and pretty sorrowful life by Roca, Ferrares and the animation and writing teams.

The ex-banker, above, to whom his roommate refers as "Rocke-feller," is proper, kindly and losing it slowly, while the roommate (below) is a "main chance" kind of guy who thinks nothing of conning the other residents out of their money ("They won't remember" is his excuse) but still takes good care of his new friend.

There is also the totally out-of-it Modesto, and his wife -- who still loves him above all else and cares for him as though he is still fully conscious -- and another, very proper old woman, who when the pair make a break for it, shown below, decides to join them.

There are a few more people of interest, and a staff who are generally portrayed as being as caring and kindly as possible -- without, it is clear, having much idea what these old folk might be experiencing and/or feeling about it all.

There are some lovely and moving moments (above and below) when the present gives way to memory and the past, and although the movie is sentimental, it does not shy away from nor try to disguise the darkness at the center of this situation. It does offer that roommate the chance to redeem himself, which he takes -- which may not be believable but gives the ending an "up" note.

And so, if you find, as did I, a tear or two falling as you watch, well, you're entitled. Wrinkles takes on the children who place their parents into an environment like this. It not judgmental: Caring for an Alzheimer's patient is no easy task but, then, neither is a group-home environment an easy place to be consigned to.

Wrinkles may just be getting a U.S. release, for I noted in the SCN program a thank you to GKIDS for allowing this screening. I hope so, for the movie certainly has significance worldwide. It plays at SCN once only: today, Sunday, December 16, at 2pm at the Walter Reade. Click here for tickets.

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