This documentary follows family and friends of Nancy Paulikas after she seemingly wandered off from a Los Angeles museum they were visiting to never be seen alive again. This doc is one that is a hard watch and will be particularly so for those with family members battling or who have battled Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s a film all about looking for a lost woman, but also about how it affected those close to her and how it brought them and others to create technology and put in place systems to help avoid this happening again and to help people find their loved ones who have wandered away.
Filmmaker Thiago Dadalt takes this sensitive subject and approaches it head on while keeping the approach sensitive and understanding of the people involved. The interviews and interventions of people in the film are all very real and done in a way that feels very human, thus hitting on the emotions of the viewer. This approach is one that may seem to be a bit too toying for some, but it really works to keep the viewers watching by tugging on their heartstrings. The film is shot by people who clearly know what they are doing while giving the people on camera the room to really explore their subject. In terms of a documentary, this film falls somewhere between an emotional family doc about loss and mental health and an investigating documentary looking into the disappearance of a person. It plays with this balance perfectly well. This is one of the reasons that this documentary works so well, this balance is something that too many documentaries forget about and they either go for pure investigation or pure emotion and they forget that balance is the key here. Where Is Nancy is one of those documentaries that really manages that and makes it a major part of its screen time, thus giving the film more power by connecting with its audience while giving them plenty of important information.
Where Is Nancy is a film that is important for the information it has and how crucial the information is, where it wins is by mixing this information with emotional content so that people can see the information and the story as very much human, helping deliver the information so that it can reach people and make them think. This is a tough watch for some to watch, but it’s the right way to do this for this subject and for the people involved.