Through shifting narratives and a bluesy soundtrack Tracey Thomas explores the feelings of joy, loneliness, passion, and self-actualization of aging in her motion picture debut My First and Last Film. Deciding at age 60 to create her first and final film, Thomas gives an authentic look at those reaching the milestone of 60, along with her own story of loss and triumph. As tragedy strikes during the filming My First and Last Film shows a raw and sentimental look at life beyond 59.
Initially My First and Last Film begins as a separate documentary titled “The 60 Project”, in which Thomas begins to interview people who are either about to or have recently turned 60. Switching between a traditional documentary format and behind-the-scenes footage Thomas begins to highlight not only the interviewees’ experiences but her own. Thomas’ reconnection with former boyfriend Dennis is a major moment in the early part of the film as he begins to work as the film’s cinematographer and sets up the future progression of Thomas’ story.
“…an insightful watch for those just beginning to enter the golden years or millennials wondering what lies in their future.”
After a few months of filming, Thomas’ world is shaken as Dennis is diagnosed with ALS and passes away shortly after. At this point the narrative shifts from the 60 Project to Thomas finishing this film as an homage to Dennis and finding her own passion in this world. Claiming that while others are passionate about feminism or politics, she never had anything until making this film and the idea of completing it for Dennis. My First and Last Film takes Thomas through old memories with her family, love of the blues, and life with Dennis as she displays the many emotions that come with grief and finding her purpose, even if it’s just till the film is complete.
Taking a slower pace, My First and Last Film displays interviews that reflect the common ground held by those reaching and passing 60, while showing their own ideas about aging. Thomas and the film’s composer Cathy Grier take great strides to set the mood for each transition and each emotion with bluesy melodies highlighting the journey into the last act of life. Throughout the film, the blues can be heard as each lick expands upon the themes of loss, progression, and peace the film conveys into its conclusion.
I found this film to be a raw and authentic look into the life of Tracey Thomas. In just over an hour of film Thomas takes viewers through a variety of emotions, philosophies, and ultimately finding herself through her film debut and retirement. Though the film is brought to focus using a chapter format, there are moments when the film loses momentum and a clear narrative due to it containing pieces of two documentaries into one film. Despite these moments of uncertainty, My First and Last Film gives a very real look at life post-60. Due to its personal feel and subject matter, this is an insightful watch for those just beginning to enter the golden years or millennials wondering what lies in their future.
"…shows a raw and sentimental look at life beyond 59."