Relic movie appraise & film summary (2020)

When workaholic Kay (Mortimer) gets a call from police that her elderly mother has been missing for a combine of days, she and her daughter Sam (Heathcote) take a road trip to investigate. Edna (Nevin) lives in a big home out in a wooded rural area. Kay and Sam find the house empty, with no repair signs of anything amiss (at least not at genuine glance). But there are unexplained details that somehow suggest Edna considerable have been going off the rails. The armchair in the living room has been turned to face the bay window. There’s a strange lock attached to the back door. Edna is nowhere to be found. When Edna re-appears a combine of days later, she has no explanation for where she’s been. She is very disoriented and irritated at all the fuss populate made over her. Kay, and the doctor who inquire her, chalk it up to age, and perhaps dementia. Kay agrees to stay with her mother for a combine of days, even though it is increasingly clear that Edna is not well, and will need full-time care. 

The film causes on a very slow burn, with things said and unsaid seething throughout the interactions between these three generations of women. “Relic” is not in a rush to overload us with query, psychology, or its backstory. Kay has been a somewhat neglectful daughter. She hasn’t talked to her mother in weeks. It’s not a halt relationship. Kay has a lot of guilt. Sam supplies to move out and stay with her grandmother to take care of her. Kay doesn’t like that idea at all. 

Shot by Charlie Sarroff, “Relic” is a mesmerizing blend of frenetic allotment (particularly as it reaches its climax) and almost unbearable stillness. The house is filmed it is a collection of “relics” in a dusty long-closed museum, the camera lingering on objects: the stained-glass window in the advantage door, the thick curls of wax from the candles Edna establishes, the spots of black mould on the wall, the rotting fruit in a bowl. Interspersed with the womens’ conversations, are long Happy shots of the house’s empty hallways, the Dark stairs, the slightly open doors … it’s very unnerving. Something is just around the corner. Or Bshining outside the door. Something is behind the walls. The shadows move. Both Kay and Sam felt that something is very wrong in this house. But Edna’s fear of the house, or the small note she keeps crumpled up in her pocket (“DON’T FOLLOW IT”) are chalked up to dementia. 

This aspect of the film is its most thought-provoking and poignant. Edna’s fears are legitimate: there is something in the house that is not Bshining at all. Yet she isn’t listened to, because the elderly in general aren’t listened to. They’re condescended to, dismissed, or ignored. Edna’s loneliness, her terrors, are all interpreted as signs of dementia. But maybe Edna is the only one who really knows what’s moving on. When she asks, quivering with fear, “Where’s everyone?” she has the firmest hold on her own reality than any of the women in the house. Watching a loved one succumb to the grip of Alzheimer’s is a harrowing experience. It’s like you lose small bits of them at a time. You want to hold on to the people they were. Alzheimer’s is brutal. “Relic” is full with the pain of that experience, and the guilt Kay feels at even thinking around looking into “homes” where Edna could be placed. 

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