Hot Docs 2023 Review: I Lost My Mom

by Andrew Parker

The fear and sadness of losing a loved one collide with the frustrations one faces when caught up in a broken system in Quebecois filmmaker Denys Desjardins’ latest and most personal documentary, I Lost My Mom.

In 2017, Desjardins (The Great Resistance) and his sister, Maryse, began documenting their struggles to find a new home for their mother, Madeleine Ducharme. Octogenarian Madeleine had been living with Alzheimer’s Disease and several other health problems for quite some time, but her condition was worsening to a point where her current long-term care home would be unable to keep up with her growing needs. Denys, Maryse, and Madeleine then became more grist for the overburdened Canadian long term care mill, basically being told that they can only take what they’re given by the system or deal with it themselves. Incensed that their mother would essentially be forced into a substandard, frightening looking long term care home instead of something more comfortable, Denys and Maryse fight back.

I Lost My Mom exceptionally captures the sadness and grief family members feel when watching a loved one slip away before their very eyes, even if the musical score (which is more suited to a thriller) doesn’t add much. An early sequence where Denys picks Madeleine up from hospital after a fall – where she insists everything is fine, but can’t remember her son’s name – is the sort of devastatingly true moment that plays out around the world multiple times a day. It’s an immediately identifiable, and for many, unavoidable sort of tragedy, but so too is the bureaucratic nightmare that I Lost My Mom builds itself around.

I Lost My Mom speaks frankly about a broken system of elder care in Canada that forces “easy” solutions onto families instead of more humane considerations and discussions. When the story moves into the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, these shortcomings in the system are further exposed and magnified, but Desjardins’ work shows that long term care had been failing those who need it most long before a global crisis struck.

Friday, May 5, 2023 – 2:30 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 5

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