UNG:DOX

Two Strangers Trying Not To Kill Each Other

Jacob Perlmutter, Manon Ouimet, Jacob Perlmutter & Manon Ouimet / United Kingdom / 2024

When unrecognised artist Maggie (75) breaks her femur, her husband Joel (84), a world-famous photographer, busier than ever, becomes her carer. But as her resentment of his success surfaces, the couple commit to equanimity in the face of the existential weight of mortality.

This film is about the universal need to resolve our inner-peace and relationships before our time is up.

30 years after meeting in a chance encounter, Maggie, 75, and Joel, 84 are still deeply in love. But their relationship isn’t without its complications. Joel Meyerowitz is a Bronx-born world-famous photographer with over 40 books to his name. Maggie Barrett is a talented, though unrecognised British artist and writer. This career imbalance is a challenge to navigate and is easily triggered.

For Maggie, the idea of death is abstract, painful, absurd. Joel has peace around the subject. Against mortality’s looming finitude, they commit to resolving any interpersonal conflicts “while we still have time”.

Maggie slips, breaking her femur. Her surgery coincides with their anniversary and Joel sneaks into the hospital to renew their wedding vows. The injury puts stress on their relationship. Joel cares for Maggie 24/7 as she emotionally struggles.

Once recovered, Maggie senses the return of Joel’s encroaching work life and her historic feelings are triggered. While Joel’s archive is put in place, Maggie tears up 30 years-worth of her diaries and sets them ablaze, pursuing reinvention. A misunderstanding leads to an almighty outburst from Maggie and she confronts Joel about her resentment of living in “his New York”. He tries to apologise, but struggles to really understand her pain.

The couple move to England so that Maggie can finally return home. She connects with her roots, facing her past of adoption. A sense of peace and equanimity falls on them and their love is pure and uncomplicated.

They realise that in their death, they will not be together: Maggie’s ashes will be in England and Joel’s in America. Stumped by the conundrum, Joel makes an almighty gesture.

We hope this film will inspire audiences to face some tough and beautiful truths around older age, navigating relationships and mortality, all of which are gifts if we can rise to their powerful call.