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Assisted Living (2003)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  February 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 255 users   Metascore: 57/100
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"Assisted Living" chronicles a day in the life of Todd, a janitor who "Assisted Living" is shot and staged in a real nursing home and gains


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Cast overview:
Michael Bonsignore ...
Maggie Riley ...
Mrs. Pearlman
Nancy Jo Boone ...
Nancy Jo
Malerie Boone ...
Malerie Skelley
Clint Vaught ...
Hance Purcell
Kathy Hogan
Jose Albovias ...


"Assisted Living" chronicles a day in the life of Todd, a janitor who spends his days smoking pot and interacting with the residents for his own entertainment. Todd's detachment from his surroundings is compromised only by his unlikely friendship with Mrs. Pearlman, a resident who begins to confuse him with her son. On this particular day, Todd must choose whether or not to play the part. "Assisted Living" is shot and staged in a real nursing home and gains much of its unique effect and style from the participation of actual residents and staff members. During much of the film, it is impossible to distinguish between what is real and what is fiction. Written by Lars Ericson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some pot smoking


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Release Date:

February 2003 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$14,146 (USA) (4 February 2005)


$41,929 (USA) (11 February 2005)

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User Reviews

A Moving Portrait of Not Going Gentle Into That Good Night
15 February 2005 | by (Queens, NY) – See all my reviews

"Assisted Living" is a subtle and moving portrait of individuals trying to reach out to each other within the rigid, bureaucratic realities of a nursing home.

Brilliantly filmed within an actual facility, using long walks down endless corridors much as Gus Van Sant did in "Elephant," the realism is palpable, framed by "The Office"-style mockumentary interviews with the staff and other interactions that have the honest feel of situational spontaneity.

But debut writer/director Elliot Greenebaum lets us gradually understand each quirky character, literally warts and all. He raises some of the same issues of bland, controlling institutionalization of the disabled that "Rory O'Shea Was Here (Inside I'm Dancing)," but that focused on the young with options, or like a less exaggerated "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and this focuses on how the elderly have fewer options, particularly as Alzheimer's and physical ailments can slowly overtake them. He lets us quietly-yet with intense trepidation-- understand what assignment to different parts of the facility mean to the residents and the staff as he demonstrates how an institution becomes a complete social order.

Until I checked the IMDb I wasn't sure if the cast even had SAG cards or were excellent local amateurs. While Michael Bonsignore is very good as the stoner orderly whose simple human kindness in opening a door or picking up a telephone has unintended consequences, Maggie Riley as "Mrs. Pearlman" is breathtaking as the resident who connects with him, outshining Gena Rowlands "The Notebook," let alone Gloria Stuart in "Titanic," for creating a complex portrait of woman who is still holding on to some reality before she goes out not gentle into that good night.

The cinematography was fairly grainy, though that added to the documentary feel of a video diary. The music was excellent in helping to build up the tension around little things that are very emotional.

While you will cry, you are left less depressed than sympathetic for the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of the inevitable. I remember a seminar I went to about the disabled where the facilitator said that we are all only temporarily abled. This should be required viewing for anyone who has (or will have) institutionalized relatives.

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