ONdi Timoner’s amateur film memoir is a harrowing and surprisingly complex film about his elderly father in his final days. Eli Timoner was an adventurous entrepreneur who founded low-cost airline Air Florida in the 1980s, became a middle-aged stroke survivor and, ultimately, faced with terrible ill health, chose to end his life under a California law which applies a 15-day period. grace period during which the patient has time to think before the lethal drugs are administered. In fact, they are self-administered: the claimant must drink the equivalent of hemlock himself, and there are heart-wrenchingly tense scenes in which Mr. Timoner trains himself shaking while holding a cup at the hand. If he can’t, everything is off.
The camera movingly sees his family visiting and gathering around his deathbed and he also has a very touching farewell with his former friends and colleagues via Skype and an iPad raised in front of his face. But the complexity comes with his wife, Ondi’s mother Elissa, who is often a bit apart from the group, lying on a nearby sofa, clearly exhausted from the burden of caring for Eli throughout. of her life and maybe harbor mixed feelings in her heart about all those people who show up at the last hour who may not appreciate how difficult it can be – and how she herself deserves part of this surge of love.
And there’s a fascinating moment when Eli’s other daughter, a rabbi presiding over the funeral, performs her procedure for entering the afterlife as simply as the nurses explain how to take the last liquid. And it is with her that Eli must confess this feeling of guilt that overwhelms him: not having repaid his personal debts to his work colleagues. His wife says she took Prozac when they had to declare bankruptcy. Exactly how this rich and famous man became financially embarrassed is the film’s big unanswered question. When Ondi tries to explain how he got out of his difficulties, his sister abruptly shuts her up, saying that kind of storytelling-promotion is inappropriate.
Maybe so, although I felt Elissa had this financial narrative at the forefront of her mind and could tell a very detailed story if she wanted to. But now is not the time. A small footnote: I would have liked to know more about the family discussions that must have arisen when Ondi – director of Dig! and We Live in Public – asked her father and family if she was allowed to film so intimately. Has a family member objected? This is an almost unbearably painful and emotional group family portrait.