The Patron Saints (2011)


Director
: Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky
Starring: Various, all cast as themselves .USA. 1h 08m

Asylums, homes, and other residential institutions are some of the least known places to the masses, more films and documentaries are made about prisons as there’s some sense that we know what life inside is like. The common perception is that the inmates of other houses don’t have interesting tales to share with us. The Patron Saints, is a stark reminder of the life and stories are still alive in the oldest generation and through this challenging piece of work I found a new respect for those who we should praise more than others in their golden years.

With age comes wisdom but with old age, sometimes that wisdom is departed in surreal ways. There’s a stand off between wanting to care for our elderly relatives and having to hand that care over to professionals, but we hope they are still live with vigor behind in security. Here we see a thriving community in this fly on the wall style documentary shows the many residents and through the quirky lyrical narration of one of the lifers, a disabled youngster who, over the years has struck up many friendships and with so much time on his hands, has talked and discovered so much, seen so many changes and is able to see the funny side in a lot of situations. I feel that the husband and wife duo wouldn’t have made such an in depth production without him.

Casually our narrator details the ins and outs of the curious cats that live around him, we’re slowly introduced to a number of elderly and disabled patrons, some have been rescued from abusive relatives, others abandoned and forgotten, one particular woman just forgets why she’s in the home and constantly asks the staff why she’s there, others are are very much with it and remember intricate details and my favourite, a woman who’s rhythms are on point as she drums and whistles native tunes.

The camera slowly cruise the halls and peeps in on whoever it comes across, seeming intent on spending a few minutes with as many people as possible, and returning to a few now and again, but no matter the situation it will float around conducting a sort of one way interview. The relaxed overtone from the narrator pitches in a history and anecdotal quips, before moving onto the next.

From time to time we meet cleaners, nurses and on the rare occasion a relative comes to visit, the most outstanding is a son who visits his mother who was sent to recover as their house is filled with filth, he loves his mother and misses her dearly, but on returning to his trash filled car I feel there is no hope for either of them.

It’s strangely provocative and gentle probes those worrying thoughts, either of oneself getting old or what you’ll do when loved ones need that extra care. Slowly it becomes apparent that at some point we’re all going to face this and we really need to make sure that it’s going to be the best it possibly can.. For a while in difficult scenes I distracted myself by trying to work out what this movie was trying to prove, what details is it trying to point out. Respect seems key but there is no real agenda, just an unashamed snapshot of the forbidden.

Rating: 7/10

R: Interchange (2018),
L: Creepy Old People in Movies Vol 1,  A-Z of Docufilms
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