- Pete Street
* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.Home/Social Media Links
Fred Won't Move Out (2012)
Opened: 09/21/2012 Limited
|Brooklyn, NY||09/21/2012 - 09/27/2012||7 days|
|Fallbrook 7||09/28/2012 - 10/04/2012||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Told with levity and sadness, two grown children and their aging parents struggle with the decision whether the older generation should stay in the house where they have lived for fifty years.
As performed with a generosity and emotional bravery that only a film icon of a certain age such as Elliott Gould could fathom, his Fred stands at the chasm between living alone with decreasing mobility in the house where he has lived for fifty years or leaving to live closer to his wife Susan (Judith Roberts), who has moderate Alzheimer's and whom the children are preparing to move to a care facility closer to them.
That his new home would be located in the same Manhattan neighborhood in which his emotionally disconnected son Bob (Fred Melamed) and his family reside doesn't make the proposition any more attractive.
The emotional precipice on which Fred teeters at first seems most shaken by the shifting condition of his wife Susan (Judith Roberts); her own dementia and ailing health has rendered her physicality a mere shadow of her former self and, to Fred, a stark preview of that which is coming his way, too. Susan -- his Susan, anyway -- is on the verge of no longer being there.
That means the audience's point of entry in this particular act of what director Ledes calls Cinemabricolage must by necessity take the form of Fred's son Bob (Fred Melamed), whose daily professional and intellectual life as a self-absorbed New York filmmaker seems to have been interrupted by what have become increasingly necessary weekend visits to the home of his family of origin.
Though Bob seems to tolerate his much more emotionally in-touch sister (Stephanie Roth Haberle), he marvels at her precocious young daughter Lila, aka "the Captain" (Ariana Altman) while taking on the unpleasant but what he sees as necessary chore of somehow prying Fred off his homestead and into the City.
One concrete change Bob is inwardly happy about implementing right away: letting go of his parents' music therapist (Robert Miller), a kindly man who has been coming around -- and whom Bob has been paying -- for quite some time.
Just as the director has created as a foil his own double in the character of the son Bob, so too the music therapist, who--not by chance--is also named Bob, acts as an uncanny double for the son, who is all too happy to tell the music therapist that the departure of Susan and Fred for the city will mean his services will no longer be needed.
Fred's son Bob must also face his own inability to penetrate his father's oracular dissociative thinking that shields Fred from acknowledging the crumbling of the life he has built up in the same house over fifty years. And Bob is also just beginning to sense the deep connection his parents feel to the nurse's aide, Victoria (Mfoniso Udofia), whose compassion and emotional pragmatism Bob is in no position to replace, even though the move means Victoria will soon no longer be part of their life.
Shot in the house where the directors' parents lived for close to fifty years, just weeks after they moved out, the film's semi-autobiographical story is memorably acted by a small ensemble cast led by Elliott Gould. Shot in sequence in just three weeks with a heady mix of improvisational work by Ledes and his cast, the film's personal approach to its subject captures a universal story uniquely told.
At the time just before I came up with the idea for my film Fred, my mother had moderate Alzheimer's and my father was starting to have trouble walking. They were living in the same house where they had lived for fifty years and where I had grown up. I remember that it was incredibly difficult knowing how to be helpful and navigating the changing dynamics of our relationship.
During this same period of time, the actor Elliott Gould and I were talking about wanting to work together again (we had a few years previously done a film that I co-wrote and directed, The Caller). We agreed that this time we should try a more improvisational approach. I am in awe of Gould's work with director Robert Altman--especially in The Long Goodbye and California Split--so this possibility had a great effect on me.
My parents began the painful process of moving out from their home and it dawned on me that I might possibly make a film in the empty house inspired by what my family was experiencing. I asked my father if I could film in the house and he agreed. True to the idea of keeping it improvisational, I sent Elliott seven pages and on the basis of these seven pages he accepted and we then began assembling cast and crew. Before we began shooting the semi-autobiographical story, my mother died unexpectedly from complications related to a series of seizures.
Working with cinematographer Valentina Caniglia, Gould, Fred Melamed--who plays a kind of distorted doppelganger for me in the film--and a dedicated supporting cast shot the film in sequence over three weeks. By filming each scene in the order in which I intended it to appear in the finished film we were able to experience the story as it evolved through our work together.
Each weekend before the upcoming week of shooting, I'd write the next act. Some scenes remained close to what I had written while others were completely improvised. The experience was truly unforgettable and I will always be grateful to our small cast and crew for making it possible.