With films such as Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph, Brave, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians (and to a lesser, but profitable extent, Ice Age: Continental Drift and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted), animation is as it’s been the last few years, at a strong point, showing different facets of entertainment. For the young ones who love fart jokes, for the teens who like a little darkness in their gloomy period and for the parents who find something to latch onto while their kids laugh maniacally, being an animation fan is pretty easy right now, no matter what anyone says. Then comes Ignacio Ferreras’ Wrinkles, a film that completely pulled the rug from under me in the first couple of minutes and beat me down until I was a sobbing mess at the end. Only in the best way, of course.
Based on Paco Roca’s comic of the same title, Wrinkles shows us what happens to senior citizens when they are no longer wanted or needed. Sending his father to an old folk’s home, Emilio (voiced by Alvaro Guevara) is battling his anger toward his son, his rapidly deteriorating mind due to Alzheimer’s, a roommate he suspects is stealing stuff from him and other people within the complex that are worse than he is and therefore worrying him even more about his future. Miguel (Tacho Gonzalez), his roommate who tends to take advantage of the other ‘inmates’ (as he jokes) by gaining money from them by giving them what they want. Be it showing one woman where a phone is who wants to call her sons to take her away because she’s gotten better, another woman who thinks she’s on the Orient Express going to see her husband (but is really sitting near her window) and taking her ticket or getting another person a dog, which they’re not even allowed to have in the first place. He’s a swindler and he’s happy with the life he has, even though it’s not much of one. But he has accepted it.
Emilio on the other hand, is hard pressed to stay within these walls without questioning everything about it. Why can’t they swim in the pool? Miguel lets him know that it’s there just for show when the clients come by to check out the place. “Who are the clients?” Emilio asks. Miguel lets him know the clients are the children or grandchildren of the people there or even the government themselves, and they have to keep up appearances in order to keep getting funding. Emilio has a routine every night, of putting his wallet and gold watch on his nightstand, just so in the morning he wakes up and sees them and ready to start anew. When his wallet goes missing, he thinks Miguel might have taken it but having no proof and Miguel promising to help him find it, he lets it slide and goes on with trying to acclimate to his new environment. He notices everyone’s quirks or the way they are falling apart.
We are introduced to all of the people living in this complex, and each one shows a different affliction that many seniors go through. A former radio DJ who only speaks in repeating others around him because ‘he’s lost all his own words’, a wife who stays with her husband who doesn’t speak anymore due to Alzheimer’s but only smiles when she whispers one word in his ear (and when this is revealed in a flashback, true love and joy are shown and also dashed by the end when seeing what the outcome is), loneliness and the fear of going upstairs where all the lost causes go when their minds are lost or not being able to even move from point a to point b. It’s a heartbreaking and realistic approach to old age, showing how some people are tossed away in these homes and are forgotten, ultimately the people there forgetting why they are there in the first place.
Ferreras comes from a fine pedigree when it comes to animation. He was a a character animator for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, and it’s one of the beautiful benefits this film has going for it. Little moments, facial expressions, slow movement of the characters and everyone having their own personality showcased by their faces makes it understandable why a film with such a serious tone be perfect for animation. The script, written by Ferreras and 3 others (the original graphic novelist Paco Roca, Rosanna Cecchini and Ángel de la Cruz) breathes life to this sad tale, one that will definitely get those waterworks going if you have a soul.
Twists, turns, depression, escape, injury, fear, love, friendship, betrayal, compassion are all descriptions of moments in this film, each one making it that much stronger during it’s run time. By the end, I look at my own mortality and wonder if and when I have children, will I become a burden to them and they might just want to put me somewhere and not have to worry anymore. Or will I be like Miguel, a lifelong bachelor who has no cares in the world and has never truly loved anyone? Which is the better life? Those questions aren’t answered but you might come away with a bit of enlightenment through the process. This is a masterwork in animation and hopefully everyone can see this sooner than later.