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 phone—until 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 dick—and sometimes it's tough to tell whether Todd is more Jon Stewart or Tucker Carlson.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >