Since I am starting my blog over, I am starting a new category. ROMEO REVIEW. It’s going to be dedicated to finding those hidden gems on Netflix and other places “cord cutters” like me find great TV and Movies. First up, this amazing find, “Andrew Jenks, Room 335.” Andrew Jenks Room 335 Trailer Below.
This film is the story of a 19-year-old who takes up residence in an assisted living facility. He and two of his friends get a room for a month to make a documentary. “Andrew” however, does much more. He becomes a part of the community and leaves as much of a mark on the old folks as they do upon him. Andrew Jenks Room 335 was recommended to me by a friend that knew it would be personal. To that end, I was confidant that she would not send me on a journey that would make my own struggles with a family member in assisted living any worse than they already are. And overall I did feel better about the concept after the documentary.
SPOILERS START HERE
The film reminded me just how fragile life is and the degrees at which we decay. Some of the more brittle residents in this film were not much older than very vibrant people I know. Yet my favorite person in the film and most vibrant was 96 and sharp as a tack. For those that have their faculties in the assisted living– they all accept where they are and know it’s the right place. The concept of old folks pining away to be “home” is something I have always pictured in my head. But these people are wise and “home,” without the youth to maintain and enjoy it, is something they fully understand, better than their friends and family.
An overriding theme that comes up in the film is the loss of a sense of purpose. It’s what seems to hit the old folks hardest, (and what some theorize causes the brain to decay to Dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc). To that end, I think the “Greatest Generation,” (the generation before “Baby Boomers” and those depicted in the film) will be the last to suffer from this idea of “purposelessness.” The digital age brings us an infinity of ways to occupy the mind and the time. Just getting up everyday and deleting spam is enough to keep you going, let alone the selfie culture of chronicling every aspect of life for the amusement of no one but ourselves. I picture retirement homes will have Instagram and Twitter wings. I also think the stigma of “Old Folks Home” is one that will subside. When it’s my turn for such a place– I think it will feel more like going to college for 80 year olds.
The film cam out in 2006, WHICH, I did not realize at the time. As the film came to a close I was teary-eyed at the journey Andrew makes and his goodbyes were quite moving. It was that minute that I realized I watched the film 10 years after it came out. And I realized that all the people I was going to follow up with– were probably long dead. Two of the main characters in the film, sadly, died only months after it was completed. Not sure of the others, but, given their age/health in 2006, I am not optimistic.
I am glad I took the advice to watch this one. It hit close to home but gave me insight. The idea was better than the film making, but I guess we can grade on a curve since the film makers were 19. Andrew Jenks has since gone on to do great things at MTV among other places. In 2008 he wrote this for Tammy and Bill when they died. Tammy was my favorite.