REVIEW: Life Overtakes Me [2019]

Rating: 8 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 40 minutes
    Release Date: 2019 (Sweden)
    Studio: Netflix
    Director(s): John Haptas & Kristine Samuelson

We hadn’t told them.


Directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson‘s documentary Life Overtakes Me is a call to action. Where many films revolving around ailments seek to provide answers, this one hopes for recognition and subsequent research necessary to find solutions. The reason is simple: nobody knows the underlying truths behind Resignation syndrome. All we know for certain is that it’s real, occurs at an extremely high rate in Sweden, and is growing internationally. The latter comes as no surprise considering our world has been growing more and more insular just as our ability to embrace disparate cultures through an exponential increase in information has arrived. As wars and genocides continue to create refugees at an alarming pace, borders of “free” nations become crowded. How they react proves key to humanity’s survival.

It’s not so great currently as countries rife with anti-immigrant sentiment move towards stricter asylum qualifications. This means that the children of parents threatened with death back home are left in a state of limbo. They’re allowed in, assimilate, and reclaim a sense of safety. That all goes out the window, however, the moment a judge rules that their family’s application to remain permanently has been denied. Some kids grow distant to the point of non-responsiveness. Their fear and dread manufactures an existential crisis that shuts their body down until it reaches a comatose state without any physical cause. Parents must therefore wait months at a time in hopes the situation changes. It isn’t a ploy to force governments’ hands. It’s a psychological effect of Earth’s rising hate.

Haptas and Samuelson portray the home life of three young children afflicted by the syndrome. We hear their parents’ harrowing stories and view evidence of when these kids were healthy and vibrant. Medical experts explain what’s happening to the best of their knowledge, but their lack of ways to stop it sticks with us most—especially since Sweden is no longer the only “safe haven” creating such patients. Older generations enjoy saying that newer ones are weak, but they have no understanding of the unique pressures today’s youth faces. You can’t hide from atrocities anymore now that tragedies occurring a thousand miles away hit home just as potently as those down the block. Kids are currently confronting their mortality earlier than ever before and it’s taking its toll.

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