Haunting, informative, suspenseful and cleverly constructed, Momento Mori is a hard to watch, but impossible to turn away from documentary film. What could have easily been a clinical, invasive and/or dry film is made captivating with particularly smart editing and considerate camera work. These tremendously personal stories of organ donors and recipients are intertwined with the fascinating technical and logistical world of organ donation and the vehicle in which they are delivered didn’t disappoint.
Well-paced and appropriately untidy in its conclusions, there’s a natural flow to this film. Time is of the essence and the urgency of each minute that passes and the painful eternity of each minute spent waiting is captured perfectly. Like the seamless beat of a heart, it doesn’t linger too long on any one thread or skip about abruptly. We have just enough time to digest the magnitude of the situation unfolding in “real time” and still remain objective, preventing emotional consumption. We’re invisible flies on the wall, observers skating the precipice of life and death.
This film stirs up so much admiration for the strength of the subjects, such awe for any surgeon that calls any transplant “routine” and such compassion for the realities of all involved. How far we’ve come and yet how much chance still seems to influence outcomes is a humbling juxtaposition explored from start to fishing in this film. Philosophical and Scientific, Momento Mori receives 4 out of 5 jewels in the review tiara for a truly interesting film that skillfully balances its lens between observer and participant and successfully steers clear of bias, giving a fair and in the moment portrayal of a modern fact of life…and death…and the hope of new life. Momento Mori has 4 more screenings at Cinequest.