Holy Crap Batman! A hero with dementia!
Hey kids, I ran across something you just HAVE to watch. I mean you as in readers of these words. Looking for entertainment last night I was scrounging some of the dodgier parts of the Internet for something not involving a cape or "found footage" to watch. Long story short I ran across something from this year (2018) called Braven, starring Jason Mamoa (Aquaman/Ronin on Stargate Atlantis) and Stephen Lang (the major hard-ass in Avatar). Plot reads like a B-roll actioner, drug dealers drop in on county folk and try to take them on their own turf. I agree, major tired plotline BUT......
Here is the kicker: The country folks (Mamoa/Lang) are in the cabin in the woods kinda thing because Lang (plays Mamoas dad) has alzheimers (he blames it on some Vietnam injury but...) and got into a fight at a local bar, thinking some girl was his dead wife out on the town.
Of course Jason beats everyones ass in proper manner as it should be but thats why these two are in the cabin in the first place, to get away to help dad mellow out (boy do I get that). And thats when the drug guys crash in and a war starts over a bag of drugs. Now here is the thing that amazed me about this; often in such a movie, the disabled person is literally the damsel in distress needing rescuing but in this case, Lang turned in an absolutely astounding performance, getting the nuances just right. I am not kidding on this, you gotta watch his expressions and reactions to stuff; it is so dead-on, either the director, the actor or something knew dementia well and from a human standpoint, not just the "Old Timers Disease" stereotype. Let me give you one excellent example that every dementia patient still with one foot in this world will view and go "A-HA!"
At one point in the rather thin plot, Stephen Lang is left to defend the cabin while Jason Mamoa tries to get his daughter to safety. As such, Lang is left in the cabin for a good-ish amount of time, with everything on him to defend it all. He has a hunting rifle and the bad guys have things bad guys do, machine guns that look like they came from the Marvel universe, crap like that. At first Lang does OK, because we all know that when pressed, we can focus hard enough to suppress just enough of the dementia symptoms to get thru a crisis (or a crisis as we view it)....
Lang is able to focus and beat them back, even taking out one intruder with a BBQ fork to the skull by way of the neck...you can see how seriously wound he is....
|Add to the list of things you don't want in life: to be killed by someone with dementia. If nothing else, we take our work seriously.|
...but when that happens, when the action winds down, so does Lang, slipping into a fog we all know so well...
You can see that haunted look in Langs eyes. It has an honesty and tearful acceptance that he has now done all he can for those he loved. And he is done.
As his fog slips in worse (and he takes a grazer to the temple, left on his own he starts to freak out and it takes Jason to pin him down enough to calm him. This shit is way too real, almost brutally honest.
Of course, no film would make it with the main hero with dementia, but as a character, Lang played a hero that while few of the viewers will understand, I think every one of us can respect the crap that man went thru. In that sense, he was every bit the hero as Jason "Aquaman" Mamoa was. I think the important thing about Langs heroism is that he never does anything super-human or outside the skillset of a patient in the MCI stage of Alzheimers. Yet within those confines, Lang found the human side of AD and made it the very best it could be. Any less and it would be the "damsel in distress" thing all over again. Any more and anyone in the know would be calling bullshit on every scene. This was, from our perspective, exactly right and possessing of a dignity that can easily be lacking when showing AD patients.
I will not spoil the ending but I am here saying anyone who even knows anyone with dementia needs to see this. I honestly don't know when they will ever make a film like this again. I found and acquired this outside mainstream channels so I would not have a clue where or when to find it as a mere mortal. Still, I hope you do seek this one out; you will not be sorry.