Wrinkles was originally a comic book (or graphic novel) written by Paco Roca and directed by Ignacio Ferreras. It is a Spanish animation from 2011 which eventually saw a UK release in 2014. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to Emilio and his son. Emilio is an elderly gentleman whose son is struggling to take care of him in his apartment. Emilio also presents symptoms of Alzheimer’s in its early stages. Frustrated and unable to balance care for his father with time for his family and life, Emilio’s son chooses to place his father in a care or retirement home. It is here we meet Miguel, the new roommate of Emilio. Instantly Miguel gives Emilio the nickname “Rockerfella” as he finds out that Emilio used to be a bank manager. Miguel takes Emilio on a tour of his new home where we see that Miguel is a bit more carefree than the other “inmates” as he calls them. It is here we see that Miguel is perhaps he is more of a cad than a gentleman. Throughout the story, Emilio’s condition deteriorates giving rise to some elaborate schemes and capers to keep the two friends as roommates for as long as possible and save Emilio from floor of “lost causes”.
Early into Emilio’s arrival at the home we see it through the eyes of Miguel as he shows Emilio the ropes. Throughout the tour he laughs and jokes about the nurses, food, and their daily activities that include watching nature documentaries (though Emilio prefers sports). Whilst jovial on the tour there is a degree of cynicism or sarcasm in what he says. Miguel is unusual in the characters we meet in that he chose to be a resident in the home. All of the other characters we meet are residents due to their physical state, mental health and that they would receive a better standard of life within the home. The only time Miguel is deadly serious is when Emilio asks him what is up a set of stairs on the tour. The stairs lead to the high dependency floor or as Miguel puts it, the floor for “lost causes”.
Miguel seems to enjoy being in the home. A highlight for Miguel other than having all his food and cleaning done for his is the gym class. He is very keen to get good seat and rushes to get out the bedroom door while Emilio says he did not pack his tracksuit. It is here we get to see the community enjoy themselves a bit and see that there is a bit of life left in them and that at least a few of them are still playful and cheeky.
As Emilio’s Alzheimer’s progresses we see subtle changes in his behaviour, his difficulties with everyday life, his anger and frustrations and at times a child-like dependency. We see how these changes in him impact those around him, particularly Miguel.
I have no experience of Alzheimer’s or conditions that impact the elderly. At no point did this film trivialise or make fun of these conditions. It treats them sensitively and gives the viewer an insight into how the characters feel. One sequence in particular shows Emilio remembering a day with his family and then a fog coming in and obscuring everything. I found this quite an effective way of visualising what he was going through. He has clear memories of living by the sea and there is a dreamlike swimming sequence in the pool at the home where Emilio looks free and completely in control of himself and his future. There are many moments with similar contrasts for Emilio.
The imagery for the care home and their regular daily schedule suggested cleanliness, sterility and control for its residents. They way in which the gate to the home shuts and the way Miguel refers to the residents as inmates created an uneasy feeling in me. One of Wrinkles strengths is that at no point did I feel it was passing judgement on care homes or the decisions made by families. It is left very much up to the viewer to ask themselves the difficult and personal questions about the place of care home for the elderly. It also thought about how we interact and spend time with our own elderly family members.
The animation in Wrinkles is nice to look at. It is consistent and does not look cheaply made. It effectively depicts visual cues and actions for each of its main characters suggesting their age and a level of fragility. It effectively jumps between the real world and the world perceived by the characters and it never looks out of place.
At its core Wrinkles is a very positive story about relationships. It is a story of how they are formed, how they can weaken, how they can break and how they can become so strong you would you would dedicate your life to someone else. We see this through our two main characters Emilio and Miguel, but also in those that we meet along the way.
Wrinkles is not easy to watch at times. It does provoke challenging questions in the viewer. It has stayed with me since watching it. I find myself thinking about the interactions relationships with my parents and grandparents. I had similar feelings after seeing Inside Out, only in that case it was more about children and their behaviours.
This film made me smile and laugh whilst at the same time being heartbreaking and sad. It showed the power, strength and necessity for relationships in life.
Wrinkles is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment in the UK or Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming from New Video Group.