Director: Ignacio Ferreras
Major players: Martin Sheen, Matthew Modine (voices)
Out of five? Four
Animation is for kids, right? Far too simplistic! And the Spanish animation, Wrinkles, which is released this week, most definitely is not.
Based on Paco Rocas’ award winning graphic novel, Arrugas (which literally translates as Wrinkles), this has been dubbed into English with the voices of Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine, among others, telling the story of a group of elderly residents in a care home. It concentrates mainly on the relationship between newcomer Emilio and his room mate, care home veteran Miguel, who quickly realises that his friend’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s are getting worse and comes up with ways to conceal it from the nursing staff.
The care home looks less than inviting. Massive metal gates that open and close automatically, concrete walls and mesh fences on the outside, clinically clean and soulless on the inside. The facilities look good – a gym and a swimming pool – but they’re mainly to reassure the residents’ families and are rarely used. Until, that is, Emilio decides otherwise. Even more disconcerting is upstairs, which houses the people needing 24 hour care. Despite Miguel’s advice, Emilio ventures upstairs to see it for himself and wishes he hasn’t. It’s just one – rather bleak – vision of his future, the other being Dolores and Modesto, a devoted couple who share the same dining table with the room mates. Dolores is devoted to her husband who can no longer speak or feed himself. Yet, as Miguel constantly points out, there’s nothing wrong with her and she doesn’t need to be there.
As an examination of later life, it’s a fascinating mixture of wry humour and the reality that everybody has to face at some stage or another. The limitations of age provide many of the laughs – a simple pass-the-ball exercise is one of the comic highlights of the film and when Emilio, Miguel and their friend Antonia decide to escape from the home, the hole cut in the fence has to be large enough to accommodate Antonia’s walking frame. The conflict between the mind and body for many of the residents is always there. In their heads, they can do more or less anything they could in their teens, but when it comes to actually doing it, they know the reality is a different matter.
Paco Rocas’ animation is clean, linear and remarkably effective. Despite the minimal details on the character’s faces they are extraordinarily expressive. This is animation in a pure form and demonstrates it is easily as powerful at depicting reality as it at fantasy.
Rocas admits that some of the characters are based on people he knew and the film certainly has the feeling of somebody who’s experienced some of what we’re seeing on the screen. Heartbreaking and bleak, yet tender, funny and warm, Wrinkles is full of heart and humour, but never shies away from the realities of getting older.
Wrinkles goes on limited release around the UK on Friday, 18 April and is available on DVD from Monday, 28 April.