Having to move their mother from her residence for the elderly to a CHSLD, filmmaker Denys Desjardins and his sister Maryse enter the maze of an underfunded system. In the form of a filmed diary, Mr. Desjardins casts a loving gaze on this playful woman and documents their steps to ensure that she leaves with dignity.
From his love story with his mother, Denys Desjardins drew a first chapter in Le château, released in 2020. The director, whose approach is direct cinema, presented Madeleine Ducharme-Desjardins, a funny and endearing woman affected by Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually loses its autonomy. He who loves the elderly and who filmed them through his work had found a character in his mother.
In I placed my mother, we reconnect with Madeleine’s joy of living and with the devotion of her children, who come up against a system where bureaucracy seems to have swallowed up humanity. This lack of empathy is exacerbated when the COVID-19 pandemic hits in March 2020. Caregivers, Denys and Maryse Desjardins no longer have access to their mother, then housed at the CHSLD Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci , one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. The filmmaker will retain a powerful image of his death on March 31 of that year: that of his gloved hand caressing the rigid fingers of his mother.
The creaky, cross-hatched sounds, which had been used in The Castle to mark the tipping point in Madeleine’s state of health, feature prominently in this other film. This time, the family has fallen into the maze of administration, a reality set in motion by the sounds of telephone tones, ringtones, voicemail beeps and the many voicemail messages that family members and CLSC staff leave each other. There is also the urgency, expressed by the ticking of the clock, a rhythm which the voices of the music follow and which contrasts with that of the editing, which is slower and which, coupled with often static shots, has the effect of accentuating the feeling of confinement.
Although this story is his own, Denys Desjardins portrays himself with humility and restraint. His story may have been or will be yours. It is also a touching declaration of love from a son to his mother, a necessary work of remembrance for all families who have lost a loved one during the pandemic and a cry from the heart for improved care for seniors.