Updated: Sep 17, 2019
Directed by: #BobbyChase
Written by: Bobby Chase
Finding humour in dementia is a tall order but #filmmaker Bobby Chase's short film about memory loss is certainly memorable.
Daniel B. Martin plays Kevin, a man struggling to come to terms with the deterioration of his father's (Ken Goldfarb) memory. He is due to visit along with his sister Erin (Sarah Wasserbach) and the prospect of seeing his dad in such a vulnerable state is not something he is eagerly anticipating. Especially when his sister informs him that there is one method which seems to rouse their father which may cause untold embarrassment to Kevin.
It's a short film that deals with Dementia appropriately and respectfully, whilst still injecting some dark comedy into the proceedings. Kevin's understandable reluctance to visit his dad and his anxiety when he does arrive feels convincing and emotionally grounded. His speech to his dad where he reveals the toll that life is taking on him right now was impressively delivered, as was the special scene when Erin shows up - which this film critic will not spoil.
The performances are great, in particular Daniel B. Martin and Ken Goldfarb. The dynamic between their characters felt authentic and each performer seemed to be enlivened by the other. Wasserbach is also brilliant as the strong yet wounded sister. More development of the family unit would have been nice. We don't get fully invested with any other character than Kevin, really, and the short running time made the piece feel undercooked.
What dementia can do to a family is more than enough of a catalyst to make a sad movie. However, finding the life and #comedy in that situation could easily land a film on shaky ground. Chase ensures enough pathos is layered before adding the funnies, so that the audience isn't robbed of their emotional connection to the story or central character. This also allows the theme of coping with the deteriorating mental health of a loved one to be explored with more variety than usual.
Aesthetically, Dementia is a fairly plain short film. There is nothing really showy in the #cinematography, the editing doesn't try to give you whiplash, and the music is done to suit the needs of the story. The only flashy moment is when Erin and Kevin's text conversation appears on screen. This stripped down and simple approach to the filmmaking was important in an 8-minute film dealing with such a heavy topic. To have faffed around with gimmicks and unnecessary attempts at style would have fell flat and undermined the storytelling.
A well balanced and intelligently crafted short film about dementia, Bobby Chase deals with the heartbreaking condition with skill and aplomb.