Ondi Timoner’s home movie memoir is a heartbreaking and unexpectedly complex film about her elderly father in his last days. Eli Timoner was an intrepid entrepreneur who founded budget airline Air Florida in the 1980s, survived a stroke in middle age, and ultimately, faced with terrible ill health, chose to end his own life under a California law prohibiting a 15-day law enforces. grace period in which the patient has time to think before the lethal drugs are administered. In fact, they are self-administration: the applicant must drink the hemlock equivalent themselves, and there are heartbreakingly suspenseful scenes where Mr. Timoner practices trembling with a cup in hand. If he can’t, it’s all over.
The camera poignantly witnesses his family visiting and gathering around his deathbed, and he also says a moving farewell to his old friends and colleagues via Skype and an iPad held up to his face. But the complexity comes with his wife, Ondi’s mother Elissa, who is often a bit isolated from the group, lying on a couch nearby, clearly exhausted from the lifelong burden of caring for Eli and perhaps harboring mixed feelings in her heart about all these stuff. people who show up at the last hour and may not realize how difficult he can be – and how she herself deserves a share of this outpouring of love.
And there’s a riveting moment when Eli’s other daughter, a rabbi who presides over the funeral, goes through his procedure for entering the afterlife as sober as the nurses explain how to take the last of the liquid. And it is with her that Eli has to confess what guilt burdens him: failure to repay personal debts to business colleagues. His wife says she went on Prozac when they went bankrupt. The question of how exactly this wealthy and celebrated man became financially embarrassed is the film’s big unanswered question. When Ondi tries to tell him supportively how he got out of his trouble, her sister sharply silences her, saying that this kind of narrative promotion is inappropriate.
Perhaps so, although I sensed that Elissa has this financial story very much in her head and could tell a sharply detailed one if she wanted to. But this is not the time. A little footnote: I would have loved to hear more about the family discussions that must have ensued when Ondi – director of Dig! and We Live in Public – asked her father and her family if she could film so intimately. Has a family member objected? This is an almost unbearably painful and emotional group portrait.