94 Years and 1 Nursing Home Later | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

94 Years and 1 Nursing Home Later 

Laurel Greenberg's compassionate 1999 video documentary about the last decade in her grandmother's life combines family chronicle, psychiatric case history, and autobiographical essay to examine the modern dilemma of retired seniors who must themselves cope with the deteriorating health of their parents. Born in the Ukraine and bound by tradition, Belle spent most of her first 60 years caring for her husband and two sons in Philadelphia, and though she wanted to spend her twilight years living with her elder son--the filmmaker's father--circumstances forced her into a geriatric center. Watching video footage taped in the nursing home during the early 1990s, Greenberg senses the tension between the nonagenarian Belle and the father, who's now in his 70s. A loquacious psychiatrist, he's expert at rationalizing his mother's emotions, yet when he concludes that she "had a good life" he seems to be exonerating himself. Greenberg doesn't let him off easy--she's begun to ponder her own degree of responsibility toward him in the near future. Also on the program is Down, Across (1997), a Norwegian short by Erland Overby; sweet, droll, and artfully filmed, it concerns a reclusive pensioner who's coaxed out of his apartment by a woman down the hall who shares his interest in crossword puzzles. Loyola Univ. Rubloff Auditorium, Monday, May 1, 1:00 and 7:00. --Ted Shen

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