A Spanish animation film related to mental health


It is said that “whatever is perceived as real may be real in its consequences”. This claim is -I believe- strongly related to mental health and I cannot easily think of other such insightful and profound phrases. The thing is that every single individual is unique and, whereas we may know a lot about the universe as a whole, we know very little about how human brains work.

Emilio meets Ramón, a man who repeats everything he hears.

Mental health is indeed a complicated and controversial topic, but that should not lead us to overlook something that is so essential for our well-being. On the contrary, its intricate nature and essential role in our living individually and collectively should encourage us to be aware and raise awareness about sensitive -and frequently stigmatised- aspects related to mental disorders and mental health in general. Here we present a worth-watching animation film which deals with mental health in old people.

The Spanish film “Wrinkles” (“Arrugas”) from 2011 is based on the homonym graphic novel from 2007 by Paco Roca. It portrays the life of Emilio, a former bank director who is sent to a residence for the elderly. Along with his roommate Miguel, Emilio discovers how people live in his new home. He sees how important keeping a good mental health is to avoid ending up upstairs. Upstairs are patients who are no longer able to live without assistance, this is the place Miguel and Emilio want to stay away from at any cost.
The film begins more or less when Emilio arrives at the residence. Miguel shows him around and introduces him to all the people. He slowly shows Emilio how things work there and what he does for having fun. For example, he asks a woman to give her money to go call her family because “by the time she’ll get to the phone she’ll have forgotten”. This, he claims, gives her hope. Gradually, Emilio and Miguel get closer until the unexpected end.

Miguel tries to help Emilio accept the new situation.

In the film we see people with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease, with paranoia and other psychic disorders. Whereas Emilio feels sorry about them and tries to adapt to his new reality, Miguel “helps them” in his own particular and highly beneficial -for him- way. Miguel is someone who accepts the harsh reality of age and deteriorated mental health. On the other hand, Emilio keeps his innocence to some extent as long as he realises that something is going wrong with him himself.

In my opinion, this extremely moving film has an immense power. With some humour and a strong dose of reality it depicts some of the problems any of us may encounter at an advanced age. I highly recommend it.

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