Blythe Danner plays a woman with dementia whose husband and children must decide whether it’s time for her to move into a care home

A tissue remained resolutely wedged up my sleeve for the duration of this well-acted, scrupulously polite American indie about a family coping with Alzheimer’s, which has met with ecstatic reviews, but left me a little cold. What We Had is the writing-directing debut of actor Elizabeth Chomko, with Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon as siblings trying to persuade their dad that after a long, happy marriage it’s time for their mum to be moved into care home – or “memory centre” as the glossy brochure grimly puts it.

Swank is chef Bridget, who flies home to Chicago when her mother Ruth (Blythe Danner), who has dementia, is found wandering in the middle of night halfway across town during a snowstorm. Bridget’s brother, Nick (Shannon), thinks it’s time for professional care. Their dad, Burt (Robert Forster), flat out refuses to live apart from his wife. Who can feed and bathe her, tend to her memories better than he can? The intimacy between Burt and Ruth is gently moving: this old-school macho guy putting on marigolds to bleach his wife’s roots.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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26 March 2019