It's another Mother's Day. Despite having moved to the West Coast, John (Bill Hoversten) dutifully calls his mother (Jody Jaress) whose cognitive decline is quickly obvious despite her attempts at masking what nearly anyone who spends time with her can clearly see. Having "forgotten" his movie, she doesn't remember having already met his wife (Kat Kramer) of several years and, in fact, believes the day is her own 10th birthday.
While John is obviously concerned, his father (Conrad Bachmann) angrily asserts that she's doing better.
She's not doing better.
Co-written by Hoversten with director Matthew Michael Ross, Mother's Day Memories is a low-budget exploration of a family and a world impacted by Alzheimer's. The story is inspired by the experiences with Alzheimer's of Hoversten's own mother and you can feel that intimacy in the language, the silent moments, and even in the body language between Hoversten and Jaress.
Mother's Day Memories has recently been released following an indie festival run that included screenings at LA Shorts, Chelsea Film Festival, Louisville's International Festival of Film, Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, and several others. Jaress, a veteran of stage, film, and television, is poignant and vulnerable as a woman whom we only know as "mother." In a way, this serves as a powerful reminder of her own journey in a world where even her own identity fades in and out and she is often unable to recall the life she's long lived.
However, part of the beauty of Mother's Day Memories is that it's never completely about Alzheimer's and Hoversten's John does a tremendous job of balancing the high drama of a mother with Alzheimer's with his own story that unfolds in quieter yet no less powerful ways. Hoversten's persona shifts over the course of the film's 15-minute running time and Hoversten serves up a disciplined performance that never hits a false note.
Conrad Bachmann strongly captures the struggles of a spouse to accept the changing dynamics of his marriage and family, while Kat Kramer, founder of Kat Kramer's "Films That Change the World" and daughter of the late Stanley Kramer, captures a delicate balance as John's supportive yet at times challenging wife.
Lensing by Keith Jefferies is effective throughout Mother's Day Memories and Dorothy Amos's costume design feels honest and realistic.
The screenplay for Mother's Day Memories wisely avoids any sense of caricature and/or overly sentimental storytelling and instead is grounded in a deep rest for and call to understand those living with Alzheimer's and their friends and families.
For more information on Mother's Day Memories, visit the film's website via the link in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic