From My Street to My Mum
Local Film-maker's new documentary
Sue Bourne, Acton resident and film-maker, was the talk of Acton a few weeks ago after her moving documentary, My Street, all about the street in Acton where she lives, was screened on Channel 4.
Sue's latest documentary, to be screened next Tuesday May 20th at 10:35pm on BBC1 confirms that she does not shy away from subjects which others might find too grim for mainstream audiences.
The subject of this film, Sue's mother Ethel who has Alzheimer's disease, is perhaps not one you would choose to watch. However, this film is captivating, fascinating and - as with Sue's other work - takes you on a journey which involves laughter and tears. It is a chance to spend time with three generations of a family with an amazing sense of humour.
At one point, Sue - who spends a weekend every month with Ethel in Scotland, gives an account of all the meals they have eaten that day. She tells Ethel: "You might have lost your marbles, but you've not lost your appetite."
Another time, Sue says to her mother: "I try and understand Alzheimer's but I don't." Ethel replies sweetly: "Neither do I!"
This gentle mockery runs throughout the film. It is a revelation for anyone who views this illness with fear or trepidation. Sue admits that she actually found herself falling in love with her mother during the three years she spent making the film. She confesses that before Ethel had Alzheimer's she often found her ordinary, even dull. But the warmth, humour and love between Sue, Ethel and Sue's daughter Holly (a gorgeous teenager now at university) dominates the film.
Things are not a barrel of laughs throughout, however. A visit to London for Ethel's birthday is a huge strain. There are scenes showing various times when Ethel has soiled herself (mainly dealt with in good humour by Sue).
But when Sue herself becomes ill (she was diagnosed with breast cancer during the time the film was made) the strain begins to show as she cannot tell her mother. The laughter and humour drains away after a frustrating outing and Sue has not edited out an unpleasant scene which many would not have wanted shown.
This film is a poignant portrait of a family tackling a much dreaded disease with humour and love. Not to be missed.
May 21, 2008