I won’t live forever, you know.
Stereotyping is proven real when an elderly Marguerite (Béatrice Picard) asks her nurse Rachel (Sandrine Bisson) if the person she was talking to on the phone was her boyfriend only to hear, “My girlfriend” instead. The woman’s face drops in surprise with an, “Oh” before finding a smile and the kindness to ask her name. We wonder if things will now change between them, assuming a senior citizen wearing a crucifix might not “approve” of such behavior. How will Marguerite react the next time Rachel rubs lotions into her legs? Will she even get the chance to return? I won’t lie and say my mind didn’t automatically think the worst, cringing to discover where it all might go with a generational gap today’s world knows only too well.
What Marianne Farley‘s short Marguerite delivers, however, is very much the opposite. Where I feared animosity and bigotry, she drew compassion and love. Where the close-quarters of preconceptions threatened to box characters in, Farley built a depiction of the complex understanding that moves us beyond empathy into something more akin to admiration and perhaps a positive dose of jealousy. We’re so quick to dismiss older people as being unable to wrap their heads around contemporary truths that we forget to consider the vastly different and archaic circumstances under which they were nurtured and ultimately conditioned. Maybe instead of revulsion, this revelation on behalf of Rachel could conjure nostalgia. Perhaps hindsight will remind Marguerite of similar feelings she repressed for survival rather than nourished for happiness.
The result is a sweetly touching tale of kinship wherein our own conditioning to refuse giving past generations the current benefit of the doubt makes looks appear deceiving. Farley isn’t intentionally manipulating us into thinking ill of Marguerite, though, because she knows some of us will by default. And whether or not we’re within that category of viewers, the endgame of humanistic warmth is still achieved. Some will interpret Marguerite’s struggle to tell Rachel what’s on her mind as a sign of embarrassment before basking in the quiet grace conjured. Others will brace for an unenlightened morsel of backhanded and out-of-touch tolerance that never comes before being surprised by what arrives in its place. Either way we find hope in this prevalent divide being erased via heartfelt generosity.