Peter Kerr, Douglas Adams
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
"How We Are Now" is a Thoughtful, Emotionally Satisfying Short Film
It seems almost unfair to refer to Andrea Niada's How We Are Now as an emotionally satisfying film, because emotionally satisfying doesn't really begin to express how intellectually satisfying and beautifully constructed the film is as Niada weaves himself into the lives of Peter Kerr and Douglas Adams. Peter, a retired actor, lives with his partner of 60 years, an increasingly debilitated Douglas.
In some ways, Peter's role has become as much that of caregiver as it is partner to Douglas, though Douglas's mind is as as sharp as ever and the two, despite the challenges of their both now being in their 80's, come off as both realistic about the challenges of aging yet relentlessly committed to one another.
The film is written and directed by Andrea Niada and was shot over the period of six days in an observational style that allows us to authentically observe Peter and Douglas in a way that challenges many stereotypes of what it means to grow older. Peter and Douglas, while living very much in the present, don't dwell so much on the past but seemingly commit themselves over and over again to adapting to each new circumstance or challenge. This doesn't mean that they don't reflect with Peter, in particular, poignantly reflecting upon the ways his life and his body have changes over the years. The film, aptly named, captures two men growing into what would be referred to as their twilight years and yet quite determined to make the most of it.
If there was a takeaway for me from How We Are Now, it's that we so often assign our elders a certain role in our lives and in our society. We far too often forget who they've been and who they still aspire to be. I can remember sitting in an intensive care unit a couple of years ago with my 70-year-old mother, who'd just experienced a massive heart attack, and I shivered at the dehumanizing way she'd been reduced to that experience from the fullness of her life that had always been there. Peter and Douglas, it would seem, remain aware that their bodies are changing but refuse to be defined by it.
Niada, who made the film as part of his studies at London Film School, directs the film in a way that is intimate yet dignified and observational yet disciplined. Lensing by Toshiyuki Ichihara is warm and intimate yet never bathed with that frequent and condescending angelic glow we so often see in these types of films. Instead, Ichihara captures the simplicity of the home in which Peter and Douglas live in a way that embodies the comfort and care of their 60 years of life.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic