This is another fine documentary from Dogwoof, focusing on one of the great fears of people who live alone. What would happen if something happened to you?
This film began with a news article about a woman found dead in her London flat which I think I recall caused a lot of fuss at the time. Or rather, the remains of the woman, as she had been dead for 3 years, so her cause of death has never been established. She lived in a large block of flats, her tv was on, and neighbours had complained of bad smells, but she was not discovered until the council decided to repossess the flat for non payment of rent.
This would be tragic in an elderly person, but the woman was only 38, and the filmmaker Carol Morley was so horrified by the story she advertised for people who had known JoyceVincent, and the story became more disturbing.
She was not a loner, she was an attractive, lively young woman whose friends spoke well of her and were both confused and disturbed by her fate. One ex boyfriend eventually broke down, claiming she had been the love of his life. She loved dressing up, had a good sense of style, seemed well educated, and loved singing and dancing. For a time she was involved in the music scene, and lived with a producer of Osibisa and Gil Scott Heron; she even got to meet Nelson Mandela. She had no shortage of friends and partners, but at her 21st birthday party, no friends or relatives attended; her boyfriend at the time just assumed she had a party elsewhere, but as the film continues, more and more questions arose that will never be answered.
She seemed to have had a good office job but towards the end of her life she was working as a cleaner. She constantly moved flats, again, nobody ever questioned this, and it seems she had spent some time in a shelter for battered women. But strangest of all was that despite having several older sisters with children, none of them came forward. None of them noticed she had not been in touch for years. Or perhaps they didn’t care.
She had a pile of Christmas presents she had wrapped. They were clearly for someone. Why didn’t they raise the alarm, either at the time or in the years that followed?
One former friend raised suspicions about her death. Why would a young woman just die? But then she suffered from asthma, so …. Perhaps the coroner had been busy and not tried too hard to find a cause, but there really wasn’t much to go on, unless there had been signs of violence I guess. Three years of dust covers up a lot.
If a vivacious, beautiful young woman can be forgotten so easily, what does that say about our modern world? Nobody has their tv on constantly for 3 years.
And this is at the heart of the film. For anyone living alone, this is a truly disturbing story: how long does it take for your absence to be noticed?