"Does anyone have any questions for Richard or Elliott? Yes, the gentleman on the left there."
"Oh, thank you. First of all can I just say thank you to Mr Ledes, I thought the film was very beautiful and very moving. I enjoyed it very much. I wonder if I could ask Mr Ledes to say something about the omnipresence of frogs in the film...they seemed to be everywhere and could I also ask Mr Gould; will you be my friend?"
Fred (Elliott Gould) lives at home with his wife Susan (Judith Roberts).
Fred is, at best, curmudgeonly, and, at worst...plain unpleasant.
Susan has alzheimers.
They both share the home with nurses aid Victoria who cooks and cleans for them as well as looking after Susan.
Bob and Carol are Fred and Susan's children.
They arrive at their parents home and slowly we learn that Susan is soon to be moved into a care home and that Fred is to follow her there.
In the hands of a less able and less thoughtful director this would have been turned into some dreadful melodrama where the focus was on the children as they fought over the home and their would have been some overly sentimental moral at the films conclusion.
"Fred" isn't that movie because Richard Ledes isn't that sort of director.
With grace, style and compassion we simply watch the family as they prepare themselves for the move into the next chapter of their lives. There is some bickering, there is some laughter and their is even some singing...but it isn't sentimental and it isn't condescending. Ledes has made what appears to be a deeply personal film but that has universal appeal.
Elliott Gould as the titular "Fred" is magnificent...he is capable of incredible warmth and kindness, particularly towards his granddaughter, but equally capable of complete contempt for the adults who are so desperate to take control of his life. It's a wonderful performance and one that, in a better world, would achieve recognition from the sort of audiences who normally only cram the multiplexes for that dullard from the "Twilight" movies.
"Fred" is gentle and deeply moving, it's a film you should see.
"...will you be my friend?"
"Well, I dunno know who you are...but I am."