Wrinkles is an affectionate and unsentimental Spanish animation about old age by director Ignacio Ferreras , produced in 2011 and based on a comic book by Paco Roca. It’s been redubbed into English for this limited release with Martin Sheen as Emilio, a retired bank manager whose son sends him to a care home when he loses patience with his father’s developing Alzheimer’s. Its simple visuals portray a bleak, prison-like, but not uncaring institution. Sweet old Emilio shares a room with the wily old cynic, and often offensive, Miguel, a perfect antidote (along with the formidable Twiggy) to any sentimentality. The friendship that develops between the two is the heart of the film, with Miguel, a fellow ‘lifer’ teaching Emilio how to survive the boredom of institutional life, and most of all, how to avoid ending his days in the feared upstairs of the care home where those who’ve succumbed to dementia are consigned.
It’s an affectionate portrayal of old people trying to keep their dignity as their memories fade and their bodies deteriorate. Of course there is a sadness that comes of the inevitability of failing health, but there’s a lot of fun in Miguel’s gentle trickery of the forgetful residents, the small fight-backs against their regulated and tedious routines, and in the break-out that has reminded many critics of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. There’s even a Titanic moment, although in a slightly altered setting (and much less cheesy).
Miguel, voiced by George Coe, steals the show. It’s Miguel’s combination of mischievousness and tenderness that ultimately makes this an uplifting and lovable film.