This film is about the experience of dying. Five terminal patients in a Palliative Care Unit at Toronto’s Grace Hospital share the last days of their lives and deaths with a film crew, having already given prior consent. They do so in the hope that their experience will be useful to the audience in managing its own fear of dying and death. Their families, friends and staff share in the task. Without narration or interviews, the camera simply and intimately observes the events that occur over the course of fourteen weeks as five people come face to face with the doorway through which we all must pass. While some pass suddenly, for others the process is unpredictable. Several die alone. The film traces equally the profound humanity, generosity and sensitivity of the staff at the hospital: with great gentleness and understanding they accompany each of the patients to their final moments. King’s choice of subjects is equally moving: while the age of the individuals is hard to guess, most seem to be quite elderly, although ravages of their respective illnesses make it difficult to be sure: an Italian-Canadian grandmother, a stoic woman whose entire family has predeceased her, a former motorcycle gang member, a gay man, whose partner and mother and father comfort each other. Both the film and the hospital’s staff allow every one of them to be themselves to the best of their ability and this aspect is one of the film’s most moving qualities. It is a classic among the few documentaries that attempt to accompany individuals over their last days.
Dying at Grace
2 hr 28 min
2 hr 28 min
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