Many people have to deal with it sooner or later in their lives: the death of a parent and the difficult task of emptying their (parental or otherwise) home. So many things, so many memories. Having to think about what to do with all those things, when your head is not actually yet on making those kinds of emotional decisions. It is a universal feeling that many will recognize whether or not they have experienced a similar situation. Loes Janssen made the beautiful documentary “What remains behind” as part of Teledoc Campus, about three sisters who have to empty the house after the death of their mother.
The most striking of “What remains” is immediately its strongest point: the filmmaker never points her camera at the people who are involved. We occasionally see a small part of one of the women: shoes, part of a vest or someone’s hands holding the everyday things of the deceased Vera. We do hear the voices of the sisters, but because we don’t see a face, it is not immediately clear who is saying what. There is sometimes agreement between the ladies, but also the beginning of what might turn into an argument (“You are always critical immediately”). Janssen portrays the situation with peace and preponderance, sometimes lets the camera register parts of the house for seconds, for example the kitchen counter or a discolored piece of carpet, while we hear the sisters in the background.
Despite the palpable grief, “What Is Left” is not a gloomy documentary. It only shows the transience of life and makes it clear that – in line with Marie Kondo’s books and TV show – the value is not always in objects – in most cases not even, but in memories. A beautiful, impressive film about a part of the grieving process that can be very important.