(HBO MAX/kanopy/VOD) I appreciate a tight, succinct opening, and WHAT THEY HAD has it in spades.
The opening consists of: an older woman wearing a nightgown with a tight pedicure and freshly-painted toenails. She then pulls on gray knee socks, obscuring the nails. She draws on lipstick, crosses through a hallway with a Mucha painting, pulls on a gray wool coat, and marches erratically into a winterly urban alleyway toting a navy bag, then dissipates into the background; she fades away.
It’s a bit of a feint, as the woman — Ruth (the ever-industrious Blythe Danner) does return home. She has Alzheimers, but her husband Burt (an amazing Robert Forster) refuses to put her in a nursing home, even as his son Nick (BUG’s Michael Shannon) tries to talk him and daughter Bridget (Hilary Swank) into rehoming her. The end result is an emotional drama written and directed by playwright Elizabeth Chomko.
“What are you, dead inside?” “Almost.”