Last Will and Embezzlement
Given the overarching structural messiness that defines its examination of elder financial abuse, the only thing Last Will and Embezzlement has in the right place is its heart. Directed by Deborah Louise Robinson and co-written by producer Pamela S.K. Glasner—whose father's exploitation is one of the many terrible tales addressed—the film tackles the often-unreported monetary crimes perpetrated against older people whose deteriorating mental and physical conditions leave them vulnerable to mistreatment by relatives, close acquaintances, trusted professionals, and shady grifters. While this phenomenon is made more prevalent and pressing by America's increasingly aging population and technology, it requires far more thoughtful and coherent treatment than it receives here, as Robinson and Glasner argue their case through a mixture of random horror-story anecdotes, a background primer on dementia, and staged images of elderly people writing checks and sitting alone on park benches. The score is all weepy violins, and actor Artie Pasquale delivers his narration directly to the camera. Mickey Rooney's own ordeal of being swindled by his wife's son gives the material a tiny bit of star power, but his mismatched interview clips merely exacerbate the earnest but graceless documentary's editorial clumsiness, aesthetic flatness, and endless repetition.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.