The film opens with a strong scene encompassing the frustration and despair that many families arrive to when caring for a loved one with dementia. Rearranging our own life to suit that of an ill family member is literally life-changing; a full-time commitment not many are prepared accommodate. This pivotal moment arrives in Emilio’s life where he becomes too much of a liability for his son, who decides to put him in a care home.
Who would have thought that an animation could express so vividly what a film or documentary cannot? ‘Wrinkles’ portrays the pain and confusion of dementia that perhaps no film or documentary can allow for with such insightful sensitivity. We get to live through the arising internal conflicts and feelings as Emilio experiences them, conveying the creator’s message about old age and its controversial place in our modern world. The film’s remarkable honesty is sprinkled with humour so we can bear the realizations it prompts about us as a society.
The film confronts us with the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better when leaving a loved one in someone else’s care. ’You’ll really like it here’ and ’There are people of your own age around, you’ll enjoy it’ echo from the walls as Emilio is left in his new ‘foreverhome’ that resembles a fusion between a comfortable prison and a hospital rather than a warm and welcoming home. The fancy facilities are mainly there to bedazzle and comfort the conscience of the families, not really to accommodate the residents. After all, as Miguel insightfully reflects on what the care home has to offer, most people can’t even shower on their own, let alone use a swimming pool.
“The truth is our dear families love their freedom more than granny and gramps…”
As a way to comfort the residents, everyone is telling half-truths and white lies not to upset them. Nurses, doctors and families alike seem to use the same well-intentioned albeit patronizing tone and it is clearer in Wrinkles than in any other film how that is perceived on the receiving end. For some it is necessary not to confront their parallel realities that they became comfortable living in, but for others it comes across as being treated like a child or taken for a fool; and Emilio feels like one of the latter.
Aliens, the Orient Express and Friendship
The film mindfully depicts a number of characters one may encounter in a care home: many consumed by different convictions, delusions or behaviours. Believing aliens are about to abduct her or thinking she is travelling on the Orient Express to Istanbul, some residents live in their own alternative world that makes sense only to them. Delusions of a wide variety such as ‘leaving the home soon’ or the paranoia of being conspired against or stolen from are commonplace with those living with dementia. The story tactfully illustrates these characters who are also adding a substantial comical element to the plot.
Despite the inevitable decay and melancholy, the most powerful images of the film are the unforgettable scenes of genuine human connection; our deepest need to love and be loved, to care and be cared for. Miguel, the old hand, takes the newly arrived Emilio under his wing and shows him their way of life in the home. He is quite the character and the two go through plenty that forges them together. He introduces him to the closed off, bizarrely peaceful but oftentimes entertaining world of the care home. It is here that he and Emilio ultimately learn their last lessons in love from their friends and each other. It is the beginning and the end of a beautiful friendship that one shouldn’t miss witnessing.