Alan Berliner’s profound – and profoundly personal – exploration of the inextricability of memory and identity will carry specific resonance for anyone who’s witnessed the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Its humbling achievement though, is to apply to any of us: Berliner holds and savours the very elements of our humanity that a failing memory extinguishes. In the meticulous style of his earlier family portraits, he constructs a many-faceted picture of his lifelong friend and mentor, the distinguished poet, translator and critic Edwin Honig. He threads that portrait with documentation of the last five years of Honig’s life, from the time he began showing signs of Alzheimer’s and gave Berliner permission to film his decline. Honig’s strength of spirit, his charm and his creative love of words persist through increasing bouts of confusion, but the disease, of course, is bent on rendering him unrecognisable.
“Heartbreaking, haunting and unexpectedly heartening… Its unblinking look at a once-formidable intelligence descending into the abyss succeeds because of a fusion of subject and filmmaker that is transcendent.” — Kenneth Turan, LA Times