Virgil Films’ drama, Fred Won’t Move Out is not a movie for everyone. The reason for this is that it is one of those movies that tackles subject matter to which most people would prefer to turn a blind eye. The movie centers on an elderly couple, Fred and Susan. Susan is suffering from what would appear to be dementia. To make matters worse, Fred begins to show hints of dementia himself as the story progresses. Enter their adult daughter Carol and her husband Bob. Bob is a dreamer of a film maker. He would like to believe that he’s something great. To this extent, the issue of suspension of disbelief is raised as the younger couple’s lives are not entirely something to which audiences could entirely relate. Script writer Richard Ledes makes up for this though in the story’s central plot of Carol and Bob trying to convince Fred that Susan needs to be put in an assisted living facility. This is where things do pick up somewhat.
The emotional struggles faced by Carol and Bob are something to which more audiences than would like to admit can relate. The script’s subject matter is a topic which has been raised in a number of nightly television news journals as far back as memory serves. So while it may be somewhat emotionally difficult to watch, it serves as a reminder to specific audiences that they aren’t alone, and that what they are feeling is entirely normal. They don’t have to place any stigma on themselves or feel bad that they feel the emotional issues that they feel. This is heightened by the interaction of the cast. Bob isn’t an entirely believable character. But his attempts to gently press the issue of taking Susan to an assisted living facility is entirely believable, as are his discussions with Fred. Much the same could be said of supporting actress Mfoniso Udofia. Udofia plays the part of Susan and Fred’s live-in nurse. While her character is only that of a live-in nurse, it shows that even those that are employed solely to care for others can and in some cases do become emotionally attached to their patients just as she does. She shows signs of this early on such as when Fred yells at Susan for no reason just because she wouldn’t hold onto the phone when someone called for Susan. Her emotional link to Fred and Susan could be argued to be more so than that of Bob and Carol. So it adds an extra level of emotional depth to the story, making it even more interesting.
Just as interesting is the juxtaposition of the calming nature shots tied into the overall story. There are those in particular that have criticized this story for the fact that it used these shots of trees and insects. The whole point of these shots was to be used as an emotional contradiction between the emotional storm inside Fred and Susan’s house and the calm outside the house. Within the confines of the house’s walls, things were anything but calm, despite attempts by Bob and Carol to remain calm with everything. As viewers will see, it’s ultimately Bob that shows to have the hardest time dealing emotionally with what is going on. Anyone that has ever had the terrible duty of dealing with an elderly parent in the situation such as that of Fred and Susan will be more understanding of this juxtaposition. That understanding will help to appreciate the rest of the story, even as emotionally difficult as it is to watch art imitating life. But it is in its own right a therapeutic work that is deserving of at least one watch.
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