(director/writer: Trey Edward Shults; cinematographer: Drew Daniels; editor: Trey Edward Shults; music: Brian McOmber; cast: Olivia Grace Applegate, (Olivia), Krisha Fairchild (Krisha), Bryan Casserly (Logan), Chase Joliet (Bryan Casserly), Bill Wise (Doyle), Chris Doubek (Dr. Becker), Alex Dobrenko (Alex), Robyn Fairchild (Robyn), Billie Fairchild (Grandma), Victoria Fairchild (Victoria), Augustine Frizzell (Atheena), Rose Nelson (Rose), Trey Edward Shults (Krishna’s nephew); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Justin R. Chan, Trey Edward Shults, Wilson Smith, Chase Joliet; Visit Films; 2015)
“Curious indie drama/comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer-director Trey Edward Shults in his debut feature film ably directs this curious indie drama/comedy. It was an SXSW grand jury prize winner.
Krisha Fairchild is the troubled, hippie-like, black sheep of a close and extended Texas family. On Thanksgiving morning she surprisingly shows up at her sister Robyn’s suburban house. The house is full of relatives that range in age from an infant to the elderly grandma Billie. They all receive her warmly. But there’s also an unease that becomes apparent, as they are not sure of her motives for coming after being estranged for so long. The anxious to please Krisha tries to catch up on what she has missed about her relatives, and chats with all of them. She’s especially interested in Trey (Edward Shults, the director and her real-life nephew). But he is not willing to accommodate her and shuns her. As time goes on, Krisha’s suspicious relatives rebuff her attempts at reconciliation, and ignore her when she weakly says she’s trying to become a better spiritual person. Long buried secrets and resentments surface during the emotionally charged meal, exposing the family’s deep underlying anguish. The drama doesn’t get involved with Krisha’s long history of addiction problems, but reveals she’s uncomfortably isolated from her kin and needs their help. The story also tells several back stories on the relatives.
It’s a familiar drama chestnut, but the newbie director brings a freshness to it. His real-life family create a sense of urgency and an eerie comedy emerges, keeping it looking like a reality TV show or of a real family the viewer can identify with.
The film was shot at the parents’ house of the director.
REVIEWED ON 3/2/2016 GRADE: B