Dick Johnson is Dead – Pass

Rating (2 out of 5)

Summary: The introduction clips seem like “Dick Johnson is Dead” will be such a funny and lighthearted way of dealing with dementia. The delivery was not so funny, and the handling of dementia was a bit dulled. I am not sure the film’s purpose, except to make the filmmaker have a good memory of her father.

Plot: Documents Dick Johnson’s dementia progresses, and his daughter (Kirsten Johnson) makes a film about him while integrating his fake death in multiple ways.

Details: SPOILERS! The expectation from previews is humor to offset the sadness of a man facing his imminent death. I expected multiple versions of his death that would lighten the mood between the sections of seriousness. What you do receive is showing the scene being shot, and then you see the scene of his death.

The scenes weren’t very humorous at all. Since Dick Johnson was in a fairly frail state, it was a little sad and almost mean.

The director, Kirsten Johnson, discuss the backdrop around her mother, who also suffered from dementia. In many ways, this felt like a therapeutic movie for her to overcome her own guilt and dealing with the anticipated death of her father.

What was also missing was the pain to Dick of losing his memory and the difficulty as a child in watching for them. There are a couple of brief moments that stirred the viewer. One was the doctor’s office, where they compare results to a test a previous test. You feel for Dick as he struggles to remember the words. Then there was another scene, where they have taken and sold Dick’s car. The realization that his independence has been taken away is truly saddening. But I don’t know if this was explored enough.