Growing old can be difficult, especially when loneliness or illnesses come along, and seeing someone struggle with those can be just as hard. Writer/director Anthony Hett has tackled this difficult subject in his two previous short films, Letters and Waiting, and continues to do so in his latest work, Scrable.
Hett’s third short film takes us inside a little launderette in England owned by Salif, played by Bhasker Patel (“Thunderbirds”, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”).
His sole employee, Mary – played by Gillian Daniels (“Michael McIntyre’s Big Show”, “Uncle Vanya”) – is an old woman very happy and motivated to work there: she has never missed a day and never will, as she proudly repeats to her employer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing she repeats or forgets, and this time without awareness.
As the film progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that the woman suffers from dementia, with a powerless Salif trying to bring her back to the present.
All the while, just like Mary’s memories, clients of the launderette come and go, like Tracy played by Clare Tyndall (“Waiting”) or Salif’s daughter Asma played by Kuran Dohil. The main room of the launderette is actually the only place we see, acting as a safe and familiar bubble for Mary. Thankfully the set never grows boring for us, the camera jumping around enough angles to make it feel fresh every time.
Scrable is touching not only because of Mary’s story, but also the people around her and especially Salif. The film ends on a heartbreaking discussion between him and his daughter that makes us reconsider what we thought we had understood before about Mary and the film itself.
While I don’t think Scrable is as good as Waiting, which I thoroughly loved, it is still a great addition to what is now a trilogy on the struggles of old age that I would definitely recommend checking out.