The End For Beginners

The End For Beginners


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

David Lalé’s camera spends a day in a home for the elderly in Paris, observing the minutae of life. This is no ordinary nursing home, however, it is the Residence de l’Abbaye in Paris, which also offers a day care facility for pre-school children. The effect this combination has on the elderly residents is beautifully captured by Lalé and very well edited by Miikka Leskinen to show the contrast between the atmosphere when the elderly are on their own and when the children are present.

A lady with a zimmer frame, waits by a double lift. The lift she is furthest from opens. She tuts and waits till the doors close, then presses the button again. The wrong door opens a second time. She continues to wait. Another woman, meanwhile, sits in the corridor with a crossword. “So this is retirement,” she says ruefully.

The episodes with the kids, however, bring a joie de vivre to proceedings, as the residents find themselves animated by the company. The children – too young to have acquired fears thanks to conditioning from older people – treat the elderly as their peers. One plays with the stump of an amputee, totally oblivious to the fact that many adults would doubtless perceive the woman as ‘different’. It would be interesting to see this documentary expanded to hear what the residents think of the children and the reasoning behind the home’s ethos, but as an observational piece, it is very accomplished.

Reviewed on: 22 Aug 2007
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A day in the life of a nursing home... with added children.

Director: David Lalé

Year: 2007

Runtime: 23 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2007

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