An old people’s home, expectedly, is a place where staff break bittersweet news to their patients. One of the nurses tell Thorkild that his ‘children will look after the those’ that he and his wife Vibeke lived in for decades. Thorkild is staying at Dagmarsminde, an old people’s home in southern Denmark. In doing so, Vibeke, a woman with dementia, won’t be alone. That his version of the truth that the staff and perhaps he is upholding. However, the staff at least know that he also has dementia and is just as much of a patient as Vibeke. This can go a bunch of ways as the main arc in Louise Detlefsen’s Mitgefuhl, or It Is Not Over Yet.
It Is Not Over Yet, then, captures the compassion that Dagmarsminde treats its guests. To get this out of the way, the technical aspects of the documentary are great. It has better nighttime photography than most blockbusters. And yes, the staff lets Thorkild and the other guests go out to the gardens during both day and night. It’s not like he’s going to stray from the lit path that they provide for him. Detlefsen and her crew also capture the soft sounds that make a place that Dagmarsminde perfect for the guests, as the staff do things like ask the guests if they’re tired. They somehow know the difference between occasional tiredness and that being a constant state people have.
Dagmarsminde’s founder is May Belle Eiby, who tells the story of her own father’s stay at a facility which ends up being the first place where she works as a nurse, describing the sense she felt in a place that made her realize that old people deserved better. When the documentary isn’t showing Thorkild and Vibeke’s daily routine, it shows May’s staff meetings. They occasionally refer to the guests based on what room they stay in. This is evidence that yes, this is still work and it has some similarities with other old people homes. Detlefsen’s camera captures her and the other staff’s faces during these meetings. She shows their positive approach to the work that feels quite genuine enough.
Dagmarsminde also exist within the context of the Scandinavian utopia which, like most utopias, are all about appearances. Some guests talk about how good they have it, implying that this isn’t the norm even in Denmark, a country that most non-Danes idealize. And sometimes, Belle Eiby’s approach can only help some of the guests. Not to use this word again, but there’s a bittersweet feeling when Belle Eiby talks about Inge, one of the guests whose energy levels are low of her efforts to get them higher. Old people’s homes have the occasional guests who doesn’t want to live another day. Thankfully, there’s people like Belle Eiby helping those who do, and it feels good to see her work.
It Is Not Over Yet is an OVID streaming exclusive.
- Rated: NR
- Genre: documentary
- Directed by: Louise Detlefsen
- Produced by: Malene Flindt Pedersen
- Studio: Hansen & Pedersen Film og Fjernsyn, Neue Celluloid Fabrik
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