My wife and I just watched LAST FLIGHT HOME and it was incredibly powerful - wow what a truly extraordinary documentary! The director did such a tremendous job capturing the candor, humor and depth of those last sacred moments with her father, and with the family, his legacy - so poignant, so soul stirring. And what a powerful way to humanize the right to die too. Pure genius.
I was particularly moved by some of the moments with the director's mom, and the journey they both went through about whether she was connecting enough with her husband in his final days. It's interesting because the viewer also recognizes this almost immediately, the way mom hovers in the background, the chronic storytelling, the incredible place of pain it must be coming from. And when the director prompts her mother to just BE with him, we're all right there in the room with this family. Yes, just be with him, don't report back, now is the time! And yet it's all coming from such a place of unmistakable love. It's those raw uncomfortable moments that make this film so real, so familiar, so important.
And the relationship between the director and her sister is incredibly moving too. There's a moment when the sister (a rabbi) is leading their father through a final conversation of healing, of shedding his shame before he dies, and the director begins to contribute to the conversation, which frustrates her sister to no end, and there's this moment of subtle confrontation between them where the director ultimately recognizes where her sister is coming from, contemplates the importance of what she was trying to contribute, her role as the director maybe, yet yields the floor - the history between them is palpable, the history of sisters.
The history between the rabbi and her father is so poignant too, without gobs of backstory - just a beautiful bite about the irony of her father's initial reluctance to her becoming a rabbi, versus her own reluctance to truly recognize him as her father. But in his last days, she does finally connect with him as her father, and alas, he keeps calling her rabbi, rabbi, rabbi. It's so painfully clear that he is also recognizing her, validating all the choices she's made in life. That just slayed me.
The visual storytelling is extraordinary too. Like a beautiful transition from their dying father's bruised hands (from the IVs), to an old home video clip with his younger hands folded over his grandson's. And the posse of teenagers who ham it up in the yard, yet their final moments with their grandfather are so tender, so heartbreaking. Exceptional work on every level.
Plus, the patriarch of this family is not only hyper intelligent, but incredibly perceptive about the world around him, with a wry sense of humor that is everlasting. Some of his hilarious one liners are still floating through my mind... "horse's ass" "fully oxygenated" "bunch of saps" - my god what a remarkable spirit he is, and always will be. Thank you for making this film, for sharing it with us, and the rest of the world.