Assisted Living | Chicago Reader

Assisted Living

Elliot Greenebaum's first feature (2003) has stirred up controversy with its depiction of life in a nursing home, and anyone who's spent time in one might suspect that certain liberties have been taken for the purpose of advancing the narrative. Greenebaum shot this low-key video in several Kentucky seniors' residences, imbuing it with a documentary sensibility that includes mock interviews with several of the main characters. Michael Bonsignore plays Todd, a disaffected stoner working as a janitor at the facility who forms a bond with an elderly woman named Mrs. Pearlman (Maggie Riley, in a spot-on performance). Todd is fond of ringing up residents on the office phone, pretending he's a loved one calling from heaven; it's unclear whether his intention is to perpetrate a cruel joke or provide some solace to people who are one stop from the cemetery—and to Greenebaum's credit, he keeps the viewer guessing. 77 min.

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