Much Ado About Dying Movie Review: Beautifully Uncomfortable

The burden of care-giving for another person at the end of their life is not something everyone will have to face. But for those who do, it can be an arduous and frustrating journey that leaves you questioning how you ended up being the chosen one. Filmmaker Simon Chambers finds himself questioning how he earned the unexpected responsibility of caring for his eccentric Uncle David in the December of his life in Chambers’ new documentary, Much Ado About Dying.

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Chambers is living in Delhi, India at the time he begins to receive calls from David telling Chambers that he believes he is dying. In the middle of shooting a documentary about traffic and the automotive boom in India, Chambers puts David off at first and questions why his sisters who live in London, near David, cannot help. But David doesn’t want anyone else; he wants Simon. Eventually, Chambers caves and makes the decision to move back to London to help David in the end of his life. However, what he believes will be a short time back in London turns into a five-year journey with his uncle.

The ever-eccentric David, a former teacher and actor, swings wildly on an emotional pendulum that keeps his nephew on his toes. But in addition to navigating David’s moods, Chambers also has to keep David from giving away all he has to his neighbors and former caretaker. In addition to managing all of that, Chambers is left to be the one who has to try and make all the best decisions for his uncle, even when his uncle sees them as the worst.

Much Ado About Dying is an up close and personal film about both Chambers and David’s journeys over the five years. While Chambers has a difficult time admitting it at first, he sees himself in David. Both are gay men with restless spirits who desire to be both alone and in the company of others at the same time.

This documentary also had me swinging wildly on a pendulum of emotions. Simon Chambers does not shy away from the ugliness and rawness that results from the isolation that effects many senior citizens. From David’s mouse-infested and hoarder house to David living off of tinned soup for years, Chambers captures the dirt and grime and awful conditions. But his camera also captures the loneliness of a man who came out very late in life and who is not only lonely but also alone. Yet there are also moments of joy and humor that I felt a part of since Chambers shot the film so much form his point of view and most aspects of his camera work made things feel very personal. All throughout the film you can feel Chamber’s weariness and exhaustion from the toll that caretaking takes on those who are both called and burdened to do it. He is not afraid to share some of the thoughts and emotions that caring for the infirm can bring. Much Ado About Dying is a beautifully uncomfortable film which had me making peace with both Chambers and David in the end as I believe they made with one another.

The film has a runtime of 84 minutes. Much Ado About Dying will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on Friday, March 15 at New York’s Film Forum and the Los Angeles Premiere on Friday, March 22 at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center. 

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Darcy Staniforth

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