Watching “The Closer She Gets” puts you into a love/hate relationship with its creator, Craig Ouellette. You’ll love the fact that he made such a moving, powerful documentary, but you’ll hate him for making it about his dying mother. You see, Jane has a brain tumor, and this is what happens to her.
Filmed with minimal equipment, you get the feeling you are watching a home movie, which gives the film a certain sense of intimacy. Ouellette doesn’t offer much in the way of commentary, either, so you’re left with your own feelings (which is exactly how this should’ve been done). He doesn’t sugarcoat things, and the fact that the family is so average makes this even harder to watch. They go to church, they pose for Christmas photos, they like to sing, they have a strong sense of unity, and Jane seems like the last person you’d ever want this happening to. She keeps such a strong outlook through her ordeal that you just know she’ll pull through. When things take a turn for the worst, all in front of the camera no less, you can’t help but wish
Ouellette would stop the damn production and leave you hanging. Then you could at least imagine your own happy ending. Ouellette has more respect than that for his mother, though. To spare us the inevitable outcome is to disrespect her. To see her fighting to the very end, looking over people’s shoulders as she thinks she sees angels, is the epitome of the human condition.
Like I said, it’s a love/hate relationship as this = film takes you through a minefield of emotions. Good times are celebrated. The bad ones are silently endured. And you have a front row seat to it all. Some may see it as cruel that a son would do this, but I saw it as a monument to a life he greatly respected and admired. Jane Ouellette was a nurse. She helped people for a living. Her son is a filmmaker. This is his way of helping himself deal with the agonizing grief of losing the person his girlfriend calls the number one lady in his life. If it can help other people deal with their pain, more power to them, but I get the sense he never cared about that. He just wanted to honor his mother, and he did a spectacular job.