Movie Review - T11 Incomplete (Outfest 2020)

Writer-director Suzanne Guacci's film is about a medical aide, ostensibly a nurse. The title of this film is representative of that and is a medical term, specifically in relation to spinal cord injuries. It might be assumed then that this film concerns itself with someone who has such an injury, and that would be correct. This film has a young woman with a spinal cord injury at its center. The actress portraying this woman in a wheelchair doesn't need a wheelchair herself in real life, which could be a source of criticism. Other recent films about the disabled have been criticized for using able-body actors, but, it should be known that Guacci is a former New York State Trooper who lost her right leg in the line of duty in 2001 and has become an advocate of the disabled community, so casting aside, it's clear that her film comes from a place of compassion and understanding, as well as genuine insight that something like the recent Kevin Hart film, The Upside (2017) might have lacked.

Karen Sillas starred in Guacci's previous film Stuff (2015). Sillas returns as Kate Murphy, the medical aide who is assigned to various patients, providing them with at-home care. It's not evident at first, but she's a grandmother, one who has been down-and-out, having weathered some tough times. She seems to have a job that she's good at doing, but it doesn't seem to be enough. Immediately, the impression is that this film will be this year's Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018), the Oscar-nominated film about a lonely and desperate woman who resorts to crime. Guacci's feature lands, however, near Where Is Kyra? (2018), another film about a lonely and desperate woman, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Here, Sillas has the Pfeiffer role, which makes sense as Sillas has a kind of Pfeiffer aura about her.

Kristen Renton (Sons of Anarchy and Days of Our Lives) co-stars as Laura, the paraplegic, former corrections officer. She's a gorgeous blonde, one of the prettiest people, which makes her former job a bit unlikely. Having that job suggests that she can be tough and strong, yet now she's confined to a wheelchair, permanently. She likes to be self-sufficient, almost stubbornly so, which is why she's resisted her brother bringing in a medical aide, but a new injury, a broken arm, requires her to allow for the help. We then see the close contact and the veritable intimacy that Laura also has to allow. We also see perhaps the loss of dignity and certainly loss of privacy, as well as the embarrassing nature of such an arrangement between a disabled person and a caregiver.

All of it is very touching and enlightening. What is unexpected is the possible romance that begins to develop between Kate and Laura. There aren't too many romances featuring a disabled person, one specifically in a wheelchair. Guacci's film isn't as overblown or as wrought as something like Me Before You (2016), a failed Hollywood stab at this kind of relationship. I've seen better iterations of this relationship in a TV show like Friday Night Lights (2006) and Michael D. Akers' Morgan (2012), but those were between disabled men and loved ones who didn't work for them. This film is about a disabled woman and this film skirts the ethical line of having a disabled person possibly have a romance with her caregiver, an ethical line that's skirted because of how broken both women feel.

Zachary Booth (The Good Fight and Damages) also co-stars as Jack, the adult son of Kate who is married and has a 6-year-old son named Brady. It's clear that he has a very tense and almost hostile relationship with his mother. He still visits her and talks to her, but it feels as though that has been the result of a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs. Kate has been helping Jack and his wife with childcare of their son, her grandson, but Jack is obviously apprehensive about this arrangement and allowing his mother and his son to spend time together. He doesn't want his child hurt by Kate as he was hurt. Yet, this perhaps causes him to act out in other ways that might affect his marriage and his own role as a father.

What we see is Kate have to deal with that hurt from her son, the emotional hurt, as well as the physical hurt that Laura experienced and is experiencing still to a degree. It's difficult, but Guacci weaves it all together with the perfect amount of sentiment and grace, allowing for sweet and tender moments that really resonate. Yes, there is a rather titillating moment, but I was more moved in a scene where everyone's clothes remained on, which the only action was that of a back rub and massage that was perhaps more steamy than the lesbian sex scene.

It's a beautiful film that tells a heartfelt story as thoughtfully and as sensitively as one could want.

Not Rated but contains nudity, sexual situations and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 44 mins.

Streamed through OutfestNow.


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