Twenty-eight-year-old artist and musician Ethan Rice has been coping with cystic fibrosis since birth. Living with his family in upstate New York, Ethan has surpassed the grim medical forecasts of dying at four months old, at four years old, and at best barely becoming a teen. Now an adult who is acutely aware of the bittersweetness of surviving only to live in constant pain and being utterly dependent on others, Ethan is able to address the terms of his palliative care, with repercussions for his family—in particular his father, Ed, a Vietnam veteran and stay-at-home dad who is himself coping with an insidious affliction.
Disarming, creative, and candid, Ethan is a prolific musician and filmmaker whose alternately witty and moody expressions enliven the household and embroider the documentary. Ed, too, employs a camera, attesting to the shared solace of making lasting images to stave off the heartbreak of last images. Thoughtfully and tactfully rendered, Exit Music observes familial bonds that are simultaneously strengthened and strained by unimaginable hardship, culminating as a fittingly complex and composed elegy. TM
Filmmaker Q&A following screening
Linda Davis Garkow
Nels Bangerter, Amy Foote