Scotland (October 2015)
SXSW, Margaret Mead, Aspen, DOXA, GlobeDocs, Guth Gafa, EBS, Documentary Edge, DocPoint
Hospice patients confront mortality through music.
Set in Strathcarron Hospice in Scotland, Hardie’s film follows nurse Mandy Malcomson, whose love of singing has encouraged a music therapy program for the residents, and six of her charges. Not a musical in a strict sense, the doc instead intermittently weaves in a number of songs, supplementing both observational and interview-based footage of the institution, its patients, and their caregivers. Some songs are performed impromptu by patients, like the Sinatra crooning Tosh and amateur opera singer Dorene, while others are more elaborate, produced in a music-video style, such as nurse Mandy and patient Nicola’s poignant duet of REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” Hardie wisely shows restraint here, preventing the proceedings from becoming either too twee or too dour, and ultimately focuses on the powerful impact this community support has on dealing with the complex reality of terminal illness and mortality.