3 June 2015 | StevePulaski
A loose and tender animated film
NOTE: This is a review of the English-dubbed version of Wrinkles, featuring voice actors Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine.
"Poignant" is the word many are using to describe Wrinkles, and that word carries a great deal of weight here, since many of us will likely face a similar reality to the characters in this particular film. Getting older, coping with age, and facing life-threatening/altering ailments isn't something we generally like to talk about, which is why Wrinkles presents it to us through beautifully simplistic, 2D animation created through use of an animation cell. The film's brightly colored visuals and clean-cut presentation make us look at age not through a softened lens, but one that allows us not to get blinded through our tears to actually focus on the bigger picture.
Our main character is Emilio (voiced by Martin Sheen), a once thriving banker who has now been placed in a nursing home by his family when he becomes slower than he used to be. Emilio also seems to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and reluctantly goes along with his family's plan to keep him in a care facility until further notice. Not long after arriving, Emilio meets Miguel (Matthew Modine), his roommate and the home's two-bit slickster, constantly taking money from the older, senile residents and remaining loyal to his individual self since he never had a wife or any real family. Miguel takes a liking to Emilio and his former banker ways, even going as far as referring to him as "Rockefeller," and showing him the ropes of the facility.
Miguel introduces Emilio to all the residents of the home, including Antonia, an elderly woman who collects the tea, cream, sugar, and cracker packets liberally given out at lunch and dinnertime (surely you have grandparents like this), Felix, a former radio-broadcaster who now simply parrots what others around him say, the long-suffering Dolores, who resides at the home solely to care for her husband in his advanced stages of Alzheimer's, and a woman who sits by a window all day long, believing she's riding the Orient Express.
Miguel explains to Emilio how these places cater to potential clients and family members more than they do the actual elderly clients they're responsible for. This idea comes up when Emilio takes note of a beautiful, but untouched, swimming pool in the nursing home's lobby, where Miguel states it's there simply to look nice for family members who believe their relatives are being cared for and catered to at this place. His ideas almost mirror that of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in The Savages, only expressed with much less hostility. Where Hoffman asserted these meticulously trimmed hedges, pervasively waxed floors, and neatly tidied and organized rooms were mere distractions of the fact that nursing homes are where people age, get sick, and die, Miguel seems to accept the hierarchy as a cruel rite of passage that cannot be overturned.
Wrinkles, however, doesn't spend too long criticizing the nursing home system. It spends more time exploring the characters at hand. Its simplistic, but pleasantly unique, 2D animation prevents things like spectacles from taking over, and instead, shows facial expressions and character/facial features. This emphasis makes the film a film of refined detail, and the fact that it's situated on characters instead of constantly conjuring up events makes this a very mannered exercise in age.
Most of Wrinkles is Emilio and Miguel roaming the nursing home, talking, Emilio's condition gradually worsening, and interactions with other inmates. A lesser film would've evoked some kind of incredulous plot to have the two geezers try and score a piece of tail from one of the nurses (thankfully, time spent doing that is instead traded for harmless observing). Rarely are animated films this loose and fluid; most are rooted in momentary gratification, constantly looking for ways for their characters to exploit every ounce of energy they've come equipped with. Wrinkles contributes to the animation for adults genre, a genre which greatly lacks a lot of attention and a lot of good, known options. It's a thoroughly tender film as heartwarming as its characters can be, and a look inside the realities of aging without the sugarcoating or the half-handed depictions. It's further proof that sometimes one of the softest presentations in film can back the hardest, most impacting punch (see My Dog Tulip for further confirmation).
Voiced by: Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine. Directed by: Ignacio Ferreras.