This provocative, startling cinema verite was cobbled together by Morgan Dews who learned of a tragic marriage of his grandparents.
The fly-on-the-wall Must Read After Death has Dews getting the film of grandma Allis who produced a 300 page transcript, 50 audio hours, and 201 home movies of life in idyllic Hartford, Connecticut over forty years ago. Allis, in 2001, died at the age of 89.
A typical family endured much strife in an "open marriage" of Allis and insurance-executive spouse Charley through the former's vantage point. The oddities and finger-pointing within a family is captured in darkly ironic fashion that is often fascinating.
The audio was done on a dictaphone as recordings were remitted back and forth between the married couple. We learn of trips away from home, dancing, falling in love, admission of the principle source of happiness in a home is being its tidiness. Allis's unhappiness seems to stem from not feeling like a "housewife".
Must Read After My Death plays like a more austere real-life version of something like Running with Scissors and seems to have something on the current bitter and bleak view on conformity and the American Dream, Revolutionary Road. Charley puts down Allis because she was married before to someone else and is fluent in four languages. It's clear that Charley had alcohol issues and Allis, at least in terms of perhaps self-medicating. Their concern and confrontations about their children, especially Bruce, manifest how the latter is unable to cope on his own and has to be institutionalized.
Much credit must go to Dews who edits some of his own shots into the footage with affection towards pets and wildlife in documentary of tough times that soon won't be forgotten.
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