Life Overtakes Me is a difficult documentary to watch. Depicting the struggles of families dealing with a condition known as Resignation Syndrome, this short, 40 minute film feels unusually bloated at times, with numerous lingering shots of the forest, snowy landscape and scenes that linger a little too long making for a relatively uncomfortable watch. Still, the film does well to raise awareness for a condition I had no clue over and makes for pretty heartbreaking viewing at times.
Resignation Syndrome is essentially a dissociative condition that induces a catatonic state. In layman’s terms, it’s a disorder that sees children withdraw into a coma-like state after severe psychological trauma. Predominantly affecting refugee children in Sweden and, to a lesser extent, around Australia, Doctors have no real leads to go on as to what really causes this. With no hard evidence as to why this condition develops, most of the documentary plays out as a fly-on-the-wall film, depicting the struggles these families have gaining asylum in the wake of their children suffering from such trauma.
At the end of each child’s story, we see whether they’re awaiting deportation or have gained asylum in the country. Regardless of which side of the fence you stand, the documentary feels at odds a little with these segments, swinging back and forth between messages that feel a little too politically driven and genuine heartfelt sympathy for these families.
After a brief introduction, we’re shown all the trials and tribulations the family have to undergo in order to deal with this condition, as siblings and the parents help brush their teeth, move their limbs and feed them ice-cream. It’s these moments that make for the toughest to watch and as a father of two, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be for the families to go through this. If there’s one thing this documentary does well, it’s depicting this day-to-day struggle.
As a way to raise awareness for this rare condition, Life Overtakes Me does a good job doing just that. The lack of science and medical explanation around the condition is a little disappointing and as a personal gripe I would have liked a more globe-spanning look at this condition. Life Overtakes Me certainly pulls at the heartstrings though and makes for a difficult documentary to watch.