Mar 10, 2023

Dame Judi shines light on heart-breaking realities of elderly marginalisation in aged care

Judi Dench in 'Allelujah' Rob Youngson/Pathe Productions Ltd and BBC

A telling film about the mistreatment and marginalisation of older people aged care is about to hit the screens starring blockbuster royalty and advocate, Dame Judi Dench.

On March 17, Richard Eyre’s latest film, Allelujah, will be released in cinemas, telling the story of elderly people who are being treated as marginal by a system which puts efficiency ahead of care. 

The film is based on an Alan Bennett play and is set on the geriatric ward of a small Yorkshire hospital – The Beth, in Wakefield – that’s threatened with closure. 

“There’s a whole cohort of people who are just on the margins,” Mr Eyre said. 

“There’s a lack of home care, a lack of proper care homes.” 

Dame Judi brings a heart-breaking sense of an elderly woman alone and utterly lost to the part she plays in Allelujah… (reflective of many older people’s experiences with ageing and navigating life in residential aged care). 

Dame Judi plays the part of Mary, an elderly retired librarian being looked after at The Beth.

In one moving scene, the ward’s young consultant Dr Valentine (Bally Gill) manages to draw her into a conversation in which she admits she never really had a passion for books, despite being a librarian. All she was interested in was the marginalia – the notes people scribble in the margins.

Dame Judi Dench sums up the film perfectly, saying “I think it’s a beautiful film. It’s very funny, but it’s also very sad. It’s full of humanity – and that’s why I wanted to be a part of it.”

At a red carpet event for the film late last year, Dame Judi said “it’s absolutely a necessity that we have places that people can go and be sure they will be taken care of by like minded people.”

Allelujah will premier in Australian cinemas March 17th 2023.

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