I kicked off Women's History Month with this Oscar-nominated documentary from Chilean director Maite Alberdi (The Mole Agent), about the impact of Alzheimer’s on Chilean journalist Augusto Góngora, and his wife and caretaker, actress Paulina Urrutia. It's a very intimate look at the couple ... apparently, Alberdi tried to convince Urrutia to make a film, she resisted, but Góngora wanted to proceed, willing to get his story out.
Alberdi chooses a non-chronological approach. We see footage of Góngora and Urrutia, available because they were public figures. There are also home movies (with two kids). Alberdi picks up the story a few years into Góngora's illness, a proverbial fly on the wall with her camera. Both Góngora and Urrutia were used to cameras because of their work, which made the inevitable intrusions more tolerable, and there is little feeling of exploitation.
The movie is both heartbreaking and inspiring. The love the couple has for each other is palpable, and if Alzheimer's has yet to be conquered, the two manage a life together, and interact with the outside world until COVID drives everyone indoors (Alberdi has said that Góngora's health got worse when he couldn't interact socially with others). In the earlier years, Góngora is aware of his situation, even making light of it at one point. This makes his deterioration even sadder, until he's not sure he recognizes his wife.
Alberdi connects this personal story to a social need to work with collective memory. Góngora began his time as a journalist during the Pinochet dictatorship, and he was dedicated to making the truth public whenever possible. As his disease progresses, Góngora's memory of those times fade, but Chileans collectively remember eternally.