Hot Docs 2017: The Lives of Thérèse Review

Singular Sensation(s)

In The Lives of Thérèse, director Sébastien Lifshitz reunites with one of his The Invisble Ones’ subjects in order to document her end-of-life process. Thérèse is a woman who has lived through many “acts” in her long life, and with her four children, she contemplates the past. We are fortunate enough to be put in a place where we can learn from Thérèse and her family.

The first act of Thérèse’s life is that of faithful daughter and dutiful wife for 21 years. At 48, Thérèse is a free woman, having procured a divorce from her husband in the late 60s. She was then able to experience the feminist movement which led her to having quite a few girlfriends. As she argues, same-sex couples could experience true equality more than gender norms allow, since there didn’t necessarily have to be a breadwinner and a childminder role. 

This is a fairly short documentary, so I don’t want to spoil too much. The little moments, again, stand out for this film. The adult children are very personable and each has led different lives, especially since each was raised by what could be considered a different mom (Thérèse in a different life stage). However, it is evident that all four children love their mother and only want the best for her during her final moments. It’s interesting to note at the end, the children reminisce not only about their mother, but also their father, and the fun times they had with him. Perhaps there was some good that came from that marriage of 21 years.


Kudos to movies like this one, The Silent Teacher, and Frailer (among many others) that document end-of-life issues. I’m sure they will be a comfort and catharsis for many.


Sat, Apr 29, 4:00 PM TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Sun, Apr 30, 9:30 PM Scotiabank Theatre 7


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