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I Cannot Tell You How I Feel    cover photo

I Cannot Tell You How I Feel 2016


Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710

Directed by Su Friedrich
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Aging, Children, Family, Interpersonal Relations, Parenting

Date Entered: 10/05/2018

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

At age 94, an elderly woman must downsize from the Chicago apartment where she lived for 52 years to move to an assisted living facility in New York State. It’s a hard transition for the woman and her three adult children as each experiences the sadness, guilt, anxiety, fear, frustration, and anger that accompany the move in different ways. The title of this personal yet universal film refers to dealing with the deep emotional struggles that go along with this later stage of life.

Although Friedrich’s mother, Lore, is still in reasonably good health for her age, her memory and ability to independently manage her daily life has declined to the extent that her children feel they have no choice but to relocate her to a space that’s 1/6 the size of her old apartment and 6 times the cost. Beginning about 3 months before the move takes place, Friedrich captures the many mundane but heart-breaking problems associated with aging, including finding and living in a facility, saying goodbyes to friends and places, dealing with technology, and negotiating tensions between mother and children, siblings, and extended family members. For anyone who has dealt with an aging parent, many of these scenes, and the emotions they elicit, will be all too familiar.

Friedrich, who has a unique and straight-forward narrative style, combines archival photos and videos with interviews with the key participants to paint a realistic picture of what happens in and to a family when the parent becomes the child.