Packed in a Trunk (2016): What Was Lost is Found

By: Reel 127 (Two Beers) –

Packed in a Trunk follows the story of Jane Anderson as she tries to learn more about the life of her great aunt, Edith Lake Wilkinson. Edith was an artist who in 1924 was placed in an asylum and was never released. Her art was packed up and given to her closest living relative. Anderson got ahold of the art and began to dig into Edith’s life. What she found was a life that closely paralleled her own.

This film follows in the recent trend of exploring heritage. There are so many lost stories out there waiting to be told and it is great that this one was picked up. Jane Anderson’s recent work includes Olive Kitteridge, which won her two Primetime Emmys. It is thanks to Anderson’s experience in filmmaking that Edith’s story was told.

A Toast

The story that this documentary follows is fantastic. I learned a lot about Edith’s life and background from the information presented. Anderson’s personal connection to the story is enough to make her front and center in this movie. It is interesting to see how a family member she never met could have such a positive impact on her life. One of the coolest moments of the film is when a gallery is interested in displaying Edith’s work. Not only is the gallery from a town she used to live in, but Edith made a painting of the exact building where the gallery was located almost one hundred years ago!

edith lake

Now that’s a superhuman level of hindsight.

The editing was excellent on this film. Almost nothing felt out of place. The sequential flow of actions and discovery were enough to keep the viewer entranced, wanting to know more and revealing it in just the right manner. The editor also did a very good job of adding in other materials to the film, like Edith’s paintings, photographs, and even some film from the time period.

Beer Two

While the editing is the strongest technical aspect of this film, cinematography is clearly the weakest. There were several points throughout the movie were the film becomes annoyingly out of focus. The moments happen fairly often and don’t serve any artistic purpose. At one point early in the film, a shot goes in and out of focus three different times. In addition, many shots that should have been stationary for interviews were moved around. It’s almost like a tripod wasn’t used during filming. The only other thing that really bugged me about the movie was when they brought in a psychic to try and communicate with Edith. They establish they are just doing this out of curiosity, because there are many questions they haven’t answered about Edith, and to take it with a grain of salt. But the scene with the psychic goes on for quite a while and disrupts the film’s pacing. Honestly it could be cut and the film wouldn’t really lose anything.

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Fortunately this movie didn’t turn into another found footage

horror film once the medium came in.

Verdict

Packed in a Trunk has an interesting story and can be very touching. It is always heart breaking when someone is not fully valued in their lifetime. It is particularly sad with Edith because of how she spent the last thirty years of her life. It is incredibly uplifting when someone can be appreciated after their death. While I wouldn’t say this is a must-see documentary, I would highly recommend giving this film a watch.

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Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson will be available on Video on Demand on April 26th, 2016.

Packed in a Trunk Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Jane compares her life to Edith’s

Take a Drink: whenever Jane tries to figure out something on her iPad

Finish Your Drink: if you cry at any point

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