June, known as Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, serves as a reminder of the dire need for discussions about Alzheimer's, a disease that shadows over millions of lives, stealing memories and altering personalities. This year, the cause has been brought into the limelight in an unexpected yet deeply resonant way — through the medium of cinema. Valerio Zanoli's introspective drama, "Not to Forget," has been rewarded with the "Best Artistic Contribution" award at the Climax International Festival of Independent Cinema, acknowledging its vivid portrayal of Alzheimer's and its emotional impact.
The film is a masterclass in story-telling that uses the metaphorical language of cinema to delve into the realms of memory, human decency, and the melancholy of aging. It not only raises Alzheimer's awareness but also succeeds in adding to the ongoing conversation about the emotional, ethical, and social implications of the disease. The review below discusses the film's artistic prowess, its emotional depth, and how it handles the gravity of its subject matter while exploring the complexities of human relationships and self-discovery.
'Not to Forget' Review: A Nostalgic Journey through Human Decency and Imperfections
In Valerio Zanoli's evocative drama, "Not to Forget," life's small deceits morph into large ethical inquiries, as it confidently navigates the tumultuous waters of self-discovery, familial duty, and age-induced affliction. Much like Fassbinder's exploration of human resilience in "Fear Eats the Soul," Zanoli’s film elucidates an existential crisis echoing the emotional potency of Haneke's "Amour."
Centered on an opportunistic millennial sentenced to care for his Alzheimer's-stricken grandmother, the narrative unfolds with a Chekhovian sense of emotional profundity, managing to distill a vast exploration of generational disparity into an intimate portrayal of shared human experience. As our protagonist uncovers his grandmother’s affluence, shades of Welles' “The Magnificent Ambersons” appear, probing at the intersection of greed and familial obligation.
Zanoli's oeuvre, from "The Minis" to "All You Can Dream," showcases his knack for juxtaposing contrasting emotional landscapes, a skill he employs here to articulate the unfathomable void of Alzheimer's with a cinematic language reminiscent of Nolan's "Memento." The juxtaposition of these generational lenses is poignant and, at times, harrowing, mirroring the rhythmic complexity of Almodóvar's "Talk to Her."
The ensemble, boasting five Academy Award winners, including Louis Gossett Jr., Cloris Leachman, and Olympia Dukakis, delivers an emotive powerhouse performance, reminiscent of Altman's ensemble classics like "Nashville" or "Short Cuts." Their interplay, especially against the backdrop of Alzheimer's, reflects the empathetic depth of "Still Alice" with the bittersweet realization of age and inevitable mortality like that in Kurosawa's "Ikiru."
Visual aesthetics are deeply rooted in Zanoli's signature style, merging a neorealist approach with resonances of Tarkovsky's visual allegories, especially when capturing the mirth and sorrow of Kentucky landscapes. The thoughtful framing and color grading resonate with Malick's evocative lens, highlighting the film's ethereal melancholy.
In "Not to Forget," Zanoli not only explores the human condition through an emotionally charged narrative but also takes on the ambitious task of raising awareness about the pervasive nature of Alzheimer's. Here, Zanoli's work embodies the humanist cinema of De Sica and Rossellini, offering more than mere entertainment, but rather a moving, socially conscious statement – a cinematic canvas filled with despair, hope, and above all, a reaffirmation of human dignity.