This short film offers a heartbreaking view of the way in which society tends to marginalize the elderly.
For many, aging has simply become a long boring wait until death. In some societies, older folks are cherished and honored. But in many others—particularly the more modern ones—elderly people are seen as a burden and are quickly relegated to nursing homes where they can become somebody else’s problem for a small fee, of course. The excuse is usually that they need specialized care that the family might not be skilled enough to provide. But the reality is that once they are dropped off at the home, the family might not visit and very few call to talk.
Many of the elderly in nursing homes limit their lonely existence to endless hours spent in front of the television, meals, naps, and random interactions with other interns. Little by little their sense of purpose is lost as they realize that they’re now simply waiting for death to free them from a miserable existence.
The main protagonist in the film is a 92-year-old Basque woman who lives at a facility in Chile. She has already spent eight months at the home, yet she insists that she’s not a permanent resident there and that her daughter will soon stop by to pick her up. She tells the other residents stories about growing up in Renteria, which is a small town located in northern Spain, close to the French border. The woman even shares a few words and phrases in her native Basque. She insists that she does not live in Chile and is only at the home to visit for a while, but will soon go back to her hometown. Her daughter speaks to her on the phone and reminds her that she now lives at the home and won’t be leaving to go anywhere else. Still, she insists. Maybe it’s her way of holding on to hope.
The other residents seem to enjoy talking to her because she seems alert and lucid. One man even tries to flirt with her a little, which she finds infuriating. But the loneliness, sense of abandonment, and her mental illness is very evident in the way she quickly becomes impatient and bossy with the others, and in her insistence that she’s only there for a short visit.