Most films based on comic-novels are CGI action blockbusters meant for young audiences; the Marvel-inspired The Amazing Spiderman also released this week, being a case a point.
Wrinkles, based on the comic novel by Paco Roca and co-written and directed by Ignacio Ferreras, might be more a harbinger than an anomaly.
It is an animated film for adult audiences about two men, one in the early stages Alzheimer’s disease, who meet in a care home.
Though at times slow and a touch familiar, Wrinkles is a touching portrait of male-bonding in old age and of the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s on those left behind.
The film opens with what the audience believes is a young couple being rejected for a mortgage.
We soon realise that we are looking through the eyes of a widower in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
‘I’m not looking for a bank loan, Dad,’ Emilio’s (Martin Sheen) son explains to his confused ex-banker father. ‘I just want you to finish your soup.’ Emilio’s daughter-in-law is impatient, reminding her husband that they will miss their show if he fusses over feeding his father.
Not long after this episode, Emilio is installed in a retirement home. He is immediately befriended by veteran Miguel (George Coe), and his son’s conscience is assuaged by the thought that his father has made a friend.
With his optimistic outlook and sense of adventure and humour, Miguel makes Emilio’s early days in the home more tolerable.
Wrinkles nods to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (with its ‘patients’ vs patronizing, totalitarian nursing staff) and the more recent, The Stand Up Guys, in which two old thieves spring their old getaway driver (Alan Arkin) from his nursing home and put him behind the wheel. A similar adventure is included here with similar results.
Gradually, Miguel has to face the fact that Emilio’s condition is worsening and the doctors will transfer him ‘upstairs.’ Emilio is more accepting of the situation than Miguel who tries to forestall that moment by coaching Emilio on a memory test with humorous results.
It is not entirely clear why Miguel is in the home as he seems to have energy, health and all his marbles.
It is also curious that Emilio is presented as the main character, when in fact, Miguel is the more interesting, not to mention lucid, character: the mastermind behind the action sequences and the man who will feel the loss of a friend the most. If he is the main character, we need to know more about his background and why he is not married, for instance.
It is also disconcerting to have the props (such as newspapers) and décor in Spanish when the actors are dubbed into English.
The film is at its best, and most original, in its portrait of a male friendship doomed by the dreaded Alzheimer’s.
Though a bit timid, the filmmakers present an unromanticised look into life in a nursing home and capture beautifully Miguel’s loneliness when he realises that his friend, though physically alive, is lost to him forever.
by Joyce Glasser, Mature Times film reviewer