How ‘What We Leave Behind’ Honors a Powerful Legacy Through Heartfelt Nostalgia

A Spellbinding Documentary That Rekindles Prized Memories

Robin A Henderson

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A man wearing a cowboy hat and a plaid blue shirt.
What We Leave Behind | Array Releasing, Netflix

Movies possess the power to inspire, inform, and transcend.

We drive to our local theater, shell out over a month’s worth of streaming dollars, and tolerate unruly audiences to see extraordinary stories come to life on the big screen.

Hollywood furnishes us with necessary escapism, and we happily oblige.

Other films, however, have the opposite effect.

Sometimes we prefer a cinematic experience that awakens a cherished memory over a forgettable messy spectacle.

We must stream this rare gift in the comfort of our homes, away from the world’s chaos. It pulls at our heartstrings and pushes us closer to reality rather than demanding that we suspend disbelief.

This film lets us take a nostalgic trip down memory lane and cry ugly-face crocodile tears.

Hang on, this isn’t Meryl Streep Oscar bait.

It’s director Iliana Sosa’s footage chronicling the last few years her grandfather and beloved family patriarch, Julián Morena, walked the earth.

She films Morena, her fearless family leader, the anchor who’s steered her sprawling lineage across borders and generations, as he nears the end.

He’s her pillar of strength, having endured unimaginable odds and setbacks yet remaining steadfast.

This is when you realize Sosa’s visual farewell lands differently; it’s not another case of a filmmaker narrating over a string of old home movies.

We watch her family exemplify the unconditional love we all aspire to or admire in our own.

They are hard-working, god-fearing, and caring folk — a close-knit group of people who value each other above all else.

You sympathize with Sosa’s pain and resistance to letting go because you were once in her shoes, asking similar questions and seeking eternal peace for a loved one.

When a film conjures buried, unexplained memories, its filmmaker accomplishes nothing short of a miracle.

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Robin A Henderson

I write about inclusive storytelling in Hollywood and diverse representation in wellness.