By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2010--'OLD CATS'  Send This Review to a Friend

A moving film from Chile, “Old Cats,” showcased at the 2010 New York Film Festival, tells a story that looks tenderly at aging, as well as examines the tensions that can arise when an offspring selfishly presses a parent into making an economic decision against the parent’s will. The result is an intense drama, including an event that generates suspense, effectively co-directed by Sebastián Silva and Pedro Peirano.

Central to the film is a deeply affecting portrayal by Bélgica Castro as Isadora, a woman beginning to show the signs of dementia, but still a person who knows what she wants and doesn’t want. She and her devoted husband Enrique, sympathetically portrayed by Alejandro Sievking, live in an attractive apartment in Santiago. Both are into their 80s and accustomed to their comfort and familiar surroundings. They also have two cats.

But they live on the 10th floor and when the elevator fails one day, Isadora finds it a challenge to descend. When she eventually does and wanders about, she is in danger as a result of her infirmity.

The big conflict in her life is brought on by her lesbian daughter Rosario (Claudia Celedón) who arrives with her female lover Hugo (Catlalina Saavedra). There is a history of Rosario making demands, and now she wants her mother to sign over the apartment so it can be sold and Rosario can get money that she needs. Isadora resists and the confrontation gets ugly.

How all this works out is the subject of the plot, but the real achievement lies in the film’s tender observance of the process of aging and the plight that older folks can find themselves in when there is such a conflict of interest. The film is extremely sensitive in its approach, and the touching portrayal of Isadora is a highlight. An Elephant Eye Films release.


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