Elliot Greenebaum's heartfelt though uneven debut feature, Assisted Living, is neither wholly documentary nor narrative, but a curious (and intentional) mixture of both. Shot in a working nursing home in Kentucky, the film follows Todd (Michael Bonsignore), a stoner janitor whose hookah-with-a-heart-of-gold shtick involves acting as residents' long-lost family members over the phoneuntil he goes too far with one call during his last day of work. The problem with Greenebaum's approach is that in courting the confusion between real and constructed realities, he allows our emotional response to become similarly confused. Raw footage of the real residents' empty stares and desperate loneliness pulls tighter at the heartstrings than any narrative ever could. As there's a fine line between fiction and nonfiction, there's a finer one between peaceable pothead jocularity and just being a dickand sometimes it's tough to tell whether Todd is more Jon Stewart or Tucker Carlson.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.
More Film News
- Alex Gibney: Steve Jobs Had the 'Focus of a Monk — Without the Empathy'
- Netflix’s 'Narcos' Tries to Be 'The Wire' for Colombia’s Drug War
- ‘The Second Mother’ Offers a Sharp Brazilian Take on the Upstairs/Downstairs Drama
- The Predictability of Teary Kids Doc 'My Voice, My Life' Doesn't Make It Any Less Powerful