by William Engel
Nominated for an Academy Award®, Edith+Eddie is a film by Laura Checkoway (LUCKY) is a devastating film about the country’s oldest interracial newlyweds
Edith + Eddie provides us with an unflinching look at the disrespect and condescension with which we treat the elderly, forcing them to relinquish their lives to third parties with no emotional connection to them.
The documentary short tells the story of Edith and Eddie, two elderly lovebirds who, after a chance meeting at the park, split a $5000 lottery ticket and get married at the age of 95 and 96, respectively. Their marriage is put in jeopardy, however, by a vitriolic custody battle between Edith’s two daughters, Rebecca and Patricia.
Patricia, we find, wants to strip Rebecca of her status as Edith’s guardian and take it herself, which would give her the liberty to sell Edith and Eddie’s house. When the two sisters fail to reach an agreement, the court appoints Jessica Niesen – an estate planning lawyer who had never even seen Edith before – as Edith’s new guardian, in part due to the fact that Edith is clinically diagnosed with dementia. Ultimately, Patricia gets what she wants, and Edith is forcibly relocated to Florida to live with her (and her husband, who Edith has taken abuse from in the past).
Eddie waits two weeks for Edith’s return, before being told that her new living arrangement is permanent – at which point, he collapses, falls ill, and dies before Edith has the chance to say goodbye to him.
Contrary to what you might expect, the one emotion that the film is best at evoking is not sorrow but anger. The first few minutes of the short are taken up by a montage illustrating Edith and Eddie’s relationship; their interactions, and Edith’s account of the way they met, are nothing short of adorable. After getting the audience attached, the remainder of the short forces them to watch the relationship get violently torn asunder by greedy relatives and bureaucrats who couldn’t care less about what they shared together.
About halfway in, we hear an argument between Jessica Niesen and Eddie, in which the former callously dismisses all of Eddie’s concerns about taking Edith to Florida. When Eddie tells Jessica that Edith has been abused by Patricia’s husband, Jessica assumes that the story is an erroneous fabrication of Edith’s dementia-addled mind – even facetiously comparing Eddie’s account of the abuse to the story of Cinderella.
Just to hammer home the egregious injustice of Edith and Eddie’s story, the film concludes with a series of title cards detailing the aftermath of Eddie’s death; Ms. Niesen, as Edith’s legal guardian, was put in charge of Eddie’s remains. To this day, no memorial services for him have been planned.
“They were truly in love. What happened to them is horrible – it’s elder abuse and it’s happening all over. We’re hopeful this film can make a difference.” Executive Producer Cher said of the film,
For more information and follow the film you can go here