Autumn of Life

By Akshita Pyla

Life is a short party that may well soon be forgotten; old age is a time to let loose, a time of joy and happiness. Don’t you think so? After one has lived a long life of working endlessly, it is only fair for one to relax and be free of any responsibility. It is an age that strikes similarity with childhood, where one can embrace freedom and time, in fact it also represents strength, survivorship and triumph over hurdles and disappointments during the course of life. It is an embodiment of a life lived yet it sadly comes not always with freedom but illness loss of the body or mind or even both. Read more here in Autumn of Life.

A beautiful opening scene of a film, we see an old couple share laughter over a drink in a small patio in France. While, its heart-warming to witness the love and companionship this couple experience, there is a flip side to this exact emotion. This Gasper Noe’s film, Vortex, starring Dario Argento and Francoise in the lead roles touches on the very concept of how golden age is not all just fun and relaxing.

The story of the film is built around these characters, their journeys and battles with disease and survival. Noe lays emphasis on the lonely journey each of them encounter although they share the same roof. It feels like we’re following two tunnels that evolve in parallel but never meet, two characters irrevocably separated by their paths in life and by the image, highlighted by the use of a split screen in the film.

Here is a little spoiler, that sum up the film; while the wife seems all fine in the first few scenes, she suddenly slips off in many moments. There are instances where she gets lost in a supermarket, forgets to turn off the stove, flushes down her husband’s hard worked writing papers down the drain, causing him great amount of stress and worry.

It can also be witnessed how they have a disabled communication throughout the film because we learn the wife finds trouble with speech because of an ailment.

A similar tone runs throughout the film depicting difficulties faced with surviving with each other’s company with little to minimum support from their grown-up son, played by Alex Lutz.

The film portrays scenes that depict the severeness of Alzheimer’s and its adverse effects on the aged couple’s everyday life. The scenes are produced aesthetically and as close to reality as possible, with an intention to create relatability. This film is a perfect representation of the suffering a couple in their final years face to only result in death.

However, it is rare to see mainstream cinema creating films with topics of old age film and of the hardships that comes in with. It is much more common for films to cover topics that range from romance to action featuring a younger cast and more youthful scripts. It not only represents this section of the society but also gives a glimpse of their actuality in the world.

Despite this, there are a few films that run along similar lines to that of Vortex that look st the sunset years of older couples.

Harry and Tonto, a 1974 film is about a seventy-year-old man, Harry evicted from his apartment and embarks on a journey with his cat, Tonto to visit his children and loved ones to only be disappointed.

Tokyo Story, 1953 a Japanese drama is another such film that illustrates difficulties faced by aged parents who travel to Tokyo to visit their adult children.

Baghban, 2003 an Indian-Hindi drama is yet another story that highlights difficulties and insults faced by parents in their old age from their adult sons.

Lastly, another interesting film is the Straight story, 1999 which is about a 73 year old man who, alone sets up on a journey, to visit his brother in a far away state on a lawn mower from Lowa to Mt.Zion.

A take away, ultimately old age should be about lying on a sofa and taking it easy, enjoying your days as you wish but sadly it can come with trials and tribulations making a louche and rest end of days not such a golden sunset.

Picturehouse Entertainment is delighted to release Vortex by Gasper Noe in the cinemas on 13th May, 2022.

If you enjoyed reading Autumn of Life you may also enjoy reading In the Garden of Flora here.

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