PFF 2006 - Andrew Jenks, Room 335

The premise for for Andrew Jenks, Room 335 was immediately engaging:

Just like the other residents at the assisted living facility Harbor Place,
I played bingo, hung out in the courtyards contemplating “the golden years,” and
even helped fellow neighbors change their oxygen tanks. However, unlike Tammy
(age 95) or even Bill (age 80), I am only 19-years-old.

My name is Andrew Jenks and this past summer I moved into a senior
residence in Florida. I moved into room 335. For one summer I did all of the
things that old people do. By the end of the summer, I had formed unimaginable
bonds with some of the greatest, and oldest, people that life has to offer. I
came to realize that it is in such friendships and the spirit in which you live
that meaning is to be found.

So, we planned to check it out and saw this documentary last Saturday night. This film really delivered the goods. Wonderful characters, plenty of humor, touching human interest, a bit of social commentary, and some truly unsettling real-life drama. Andrew Jenks is a real 19 year old, and he really did spend five weeks in an assisted living facility. While there he sees the good and the bad that goes on there (mostly the good, this isn't a film with an overt social message, and focuses on the wonderful people there), and leaves us with a lot to think about.

This film is a prime example of how story and character can carry a film beyond any technical limitations, of which there were many. Bad audio, shaky camerawork (even when tripod-shot oddly), bad lighting, bad exposure, bad color balance, cameras in view of other camera, microphones being bumped around, microphones in view of the camera, this thing was an absolute mess... and it didn't matter one bit, because you come away with a real affection for the elderly subjects of the film and a true respect for the young kid who devoted his time to this story.

1 comment:

Gabe said...

A local reviewer gave this film a star and a half. He felt Andrew covered issues adults already are aware of, and to see a "kid" discovering them, had him feeling like telling him to "grow up." This guy completely missed the point.

Like you said, this isn't a film with an "overt social message," and I don't think he intended it to have one. Sure, the majority of us are well aware of the hardships elderly ones have to face, but do we see them experience it emotionally? Some elderly parents may not reveal their true emotions to there children, and not all elderly share the same difficulties.

So, I think Andrew's situation, especially that he didn't have any previous connections with the people there, was enlightening and engaging.