The lead singer of a local metal band gets a visit from his brother to tell him their mother is in a hospice for Alzheimer’s disease in writer/director Jon Milograno’s drama Take Care.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 850,000 people in the UK alone. Despite the vast numbers of people with the disease, there have been no new breakthroughs or drugs for it in the past two decades, until just last month when the largest genetic study of Alzheimer’s took place, providing some evidence linking the disease to interference in the brain’s immune system.
Dementia and its effects on the daily existence of, not only the sufferer but also their family, is captured empathetically and compassionately in Jon Milograno’s Take Care. It’s anchored by a terrific performance from Caleb Clark that should garner him great reviews and push him closer to the attention of more casting directors. As Joey, the black sheep of the family and lead singer of the local metal band The Guard, his work here is an example of restraint; it’s a performance that goes for effective understated choices, instead of large emotional ones and, although he has his flashes of grandeur, it’s the small moments that are more powerful and feel more real. Stories about life-changing events, sickness, and diseases often play to the lowest common denominator by becoming grandiose and melodramatic, with the main aim being to tug at the heartstrings. However, what director Milograno, his lead Clark, and the rest of the cast and crew have managed to do is give us an exceptionally good character piece.
After a gig Joey is visited by his brother with some sad news about their mother who suffers from dementia, she has been placed in a hospice and doesn’t have much time left. Having been estranged from his family for some time, the wayward son now has some demons to face. Joey works up the courage to visit his mother, only to find that she no longer remembers him and it’s Joey’s struggle with this realization that the most important person in his world can no longer remember him, that keeps our interest. Joey by his very nature is a restless soul, but this brush with mortality forces him to look inside himself, find the calm and the peace that will enable him to accept an essentially different person as his mother, and learn to treasure the love they once had?
Take Care is a short film that although consisting of many busy moments, loud scenes, and showy exchanges, works just as well during the quieter times, and even thrives during the silences. Isaac McCord’s cinematography keeps things dark during the serious times but manages to inject enough light and manipulate the angles to impress on us the more uplifting moments. Alongside Clark, there is also Jonathan Bedford as his brother Ben, and Chantey Colet as their mum. The eyes and body language of all three actors manage to emphasise the changes and differences in their characters. None of them make a wrong choice.
Take Care manages to shed more light on what it’s like to have a loved one living with Alzheimer’s but come ready with a handkerchief as it has an ending that will definitely leave you with something in your eye.