Based on the comic book by Paco Roca, Wrinkles – or Arrugas, as it is in its native Spanish – tells the story of retired bank director Emilio, as he arrives at the care home where he is to spend the last years of his life. He strikes up a friendship with his happy-go-lucky roommate, Miguel, and learns what it means to be taken out of familiar surroundings and placed in an elderly care home, what happens there, and ultimately, comes to terms with the reasons as to why he and essentially the elderly are sent to such places.
There are many sad truths in the story that the narrative addresses; how it feels to grow old, the question of mortality, a life now dependent on medication, believing you’re a burden to your family (do they really think that about you?) and degenerative illnesses. This is all against a back-drop of heart-warming characters in the home suffering with old age and associated mental illnesses, and being in denial that actually, they’re in there because their families don’t really want to deal with them as they grow older.
These are issues Emilio faces and tries to very hard to accept in his own silent way. His roommate and friend, Miguel, the Artful Dodger-character of the bunch, may make jokes but pulls no punches in the real reasons as to why they are living in the home. He wears a jester’s mask but underneath it he’s no fool. From the almost-like-Mordor gates of the home and the cruel way they close slowly to emphasise there’s no escape, to the fact that the unused swimming pool in the home is there for show only to make the establishment look good for prospective clients, it’s an extremely harsh reality that all the residents face when they come to live here.
That’s not to say that the home is bad; this is no borstal or house of horrors. It’s a simple care home with friendly staff and nurses, which is what makes it even more tragic. And this is where Roca and Ferreras set the challenge to no longer deny what will happen to us, and as we watch Emilio adjust to being put here for the last of his years, amongst dementia patients and paralysed people, where his meals are timed and activities are scheduled, Wrinkles makes us all consider what our winter years will hold for us and where we will end up.
As the film progresses, sadly so does Emilio’s Alzheimer’s. Undiagnosed at the start of the story, it’s a painful process to watch him deal with his illness over the months. Miguel is always on hand though to look after his friend, a wonderful character who sees no harm in indulging some of the other mentally ill patients in their fantasies: Señora Rosario who sits by her bedroom window constantly staring out of it and pretending to smoke, believing she’s on a journey to Istanbul on the Orient Express many years ago. Miguel visits her often and talks to her about her trip playing the part of the ticket inspector, but when he leaves her room the animation transitions to show sadly, it’s all in her imagination.
There are a great many positives in Wrinkles though, none more so than if anything, the story makes us question our perception of the elderly and how we treat and regard them. They still require care, love and attention because that’s what they gave us during their lives. The script is often humorous, happily with couples still in love after decades of marriage, though the film is never saccharine and the observation of how the elderly feel about where they live is sometimes heartbreaking.
Like the best animated movies, Wrinkles succeeds in evoking so much emotion in such simple 2D drawings. The truth is in its simplicity. I watched it in Spanish with English subtitles as opposed the Hollywood-dubbed version through preference.
A very important film of what might happen to us in not so many years from now… and who might be there with us.
You can buy Wrinkles on DVD and Blu-ray on hive by clicking here.
You can find out more about Wrinkles and the making of, by visiting the official website here.
Images used with kind permission from Anchor Bay Entertainment UK Ltd.
Nº DEPÓSITO LEGAL: C2588 – 2011.