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Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter (1994)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Doris Hoffmann ...
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What's a daughter to do when her mother asks: "How exactly are we related?"

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9 April 2003 (Czech Republic)  »

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Featured in The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995) See more »

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Heartfelt and thoughtful doc about Alzheimer's
23 August 2007 | by (Korea) – See all my reviews

I don't know anyone personally who has had Alzheimer's but my grandmothers' judgment and mental acuity were dimmed as they got older. This was sad but not as heart-rending as the disorienting pillaging of the mind which Alzheimer's does. The cruelty of Alzheimer's only serves to make this film all the more of a possible salve to the concerned family members for whom this film would be useful. Director Deborah Hoffmann films lots of very poignant material with an admirably detached, sometimes bemused mien. Of course the mien probably was adopted in order to mask her pain, but Hoffmann says, very thoughtfully and poignantly, that she began coming to terms with the disease when she realized that it was best to concede her mother (Doris)' claims about her ties, her bonds, her family- basically, if her mother said something, she would not argue with it. Her argument was sound. She said, it doesn't matter to my mother and it's just easier to accept as true, what she says. And what does it hurt anyone if she claims we went to college or were in the same sorority? She's happy, she might not remember tomorrow, and it doesn't change the facts of the matter.

Hoffmann's manner is sensitive but not maudlin. She recognizes the sadness of her mother's condition but her focus, quite rightly, in this film, is in how to address the situation, rather than simply lashing out at the unfairness of her mother's health. She and her partner come off as humane, intelligent women and this is a touching tribute to a woman who Hoffmann loved dearly and which situation undoubtedly saddened her. Incidentally, in further investigation, I discovered that Deborah's mother died in 2002, eight or nine years after the filming of this movie, which were presumably equally difficult-or perhaps not, given Hoffmann's revelation about hos best to come to terms with her mother's illness. In any case, I think this film might be a calming, soothing film to families struggling with the ravages of this illness.


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