Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"I Will Follow" doesn't tell a story so much as try to understand a woman. Through her, we can find insights into the ways we deal with death. In one way or another, every emotion in this wonderful independent film is one I've experienced myself. Grief, of course. But also anger, loneliness, confusion and a sense of lost direction. Above all, urgent conversations you have in your own mind with someone who is no longer alive. How many people, now dead, have you wanted to ask questions you should have asked when they were alive?
The film takes place during one day in a home in Topanga Canyon, just a short drive north of Los Angeles but with a sort of woodsy feeling. This is where a woman named Amanda (Beverly Todd) spent the last year of her life. She had breast cancer, she refused chemo, she wanted to die on her own terms in her own house, and died not long ago. We spend the day with her favorite niece, Maye (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), who lived with her for that last year.
Maye feels as if she's taking her next step into thin air. Amanda was a powerful and charismatic woman, a recording session drummer for rock-and-roll and jazz groups. Maye has had success as a makeup artist in Hollywood, but it was her aunt who seemed glamorous and enchanting above everyone else. Now Maye is left behind.
The film opens with an argument with the movers. There's that tension you feel when someone touches anything left behind by a dead person, and it's like they're killing them just a little more. To help her pack up things, Maye has her nephew Raven (Dijon Talton), who is distracted, annoyed, unhelpful. People come by the house all day: two guys from the Goodwill, a woman repairman from the satellite company, a neighbor. All of these small roles are cast and written to create characters who are small but very human.