América

América

Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside
USA
2018
76 minutes

When their father is jailed for allegedly neglecting his eponymous 93-year-old mother, grandsons Rodrigo, Bruno, and Diego reunite to care for her. Diego, a circus performer living in Puerto Vallarta, unhesitatingly returns to the small town of Colita with hopes of forming the “ideal team” to care for her in her final years – or at least until they can work a corrupt system to get their father out of prison.

Diego sees poetry and purpose in this tragedy, believing she willfully fell out of bed to save herself, and her family. But to Rodrigo, América is a victim of her advanced dementia, which leaves her unable to choose whether even to live or die. He might be projecting when he tells the members of a meditation he leads that, “You have been living in a dream. Reality destroys that dream.” But the brothers can at least agree when he asserts, “But love is something eternal.”

Directors Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll delicately capture the stark mundanity of daily life, quietly coaxing its complexities with gentle agility. Even the most tense moments seem subdued – like when Ro and his partner Cris calmly wash dishes while Bruno and Diego wrestle, shouting and rolling on the floor, arguing about money. The camera remains impartial, and yet it can’t help but highlight the inevitable hilarity of a scene so many siblings have lived. Can anyone love more deeply, and fight more furiously, than family?

América is a tightwire act, balanced between love and obligation, independence and co-dependence, vitality and infirmity, laughter and tears. -KV