Estranged parents, traumatized spouses and dead siblings factor into the family plots of some of last year’s most dramatic films.
…Manchester by the Sea:
This year's Best Actor Oscared Casey Affleck plays a sullen guy, forever wrapped in grief from an earlier, devastating tragedy, who must face his past when he returns to the titular home following the death of his brother. There, he must decide on the guardianship of his equally sullen teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges). Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan (also an Oscar winner for this film's screenplay) lays the moroseness on thick in this depression-athon, which I never really connected with due to its not-so-likable characters and monotonous tone. (5/10)
|"Yeah, I don't really get it either."|
…Hell or High Water:
This modern day revenge tale with shades of the Old West finds two brothers (level headed Chris Pine and loose cannon Ben Foster) setting out to save the family farm by going on a bank robbing spree, with grizzled Texas Ranger Jeff Bridges hot on their heels. Fine performances of familiar character types elevate what is really, despite its contemporary economic trappings, an oft-told story. Still, it is a story well told, with subtly effective neo-Western atmospheric touches. (7/10)
|Carpool Karaoke, Texas Ranger Style|
Meet Krisha, the ultimate “black sheep of the family”, who nonetheless is not only invited to Thanksgiving but is entrusted with cooking the turkey. Not a wise move at all, as the mounting pressure sends her on a wine-soaked downward spiral of bitterness and desperation. In his feature debut, writer/director Trey Edward Shults stacks the deck, dramatically and illogically, against his protagonist (played by his own aunt, Krisha Fairchild), although stylistically he shows some promise. (6/10)
|"Gena Rowlands ain't got nothin' on me."|
Now two-time Academy Award winning director Asghar Farhadi crafts another blistering domestic drama with this Oscar winner from Iran. Shortly after a young couple (Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti) move into a new apartment, their lives are upturned by an unwanted visitor. A masterwork in realism, The Salesman (which takes its name from the play Death of a Salesman, which figures into the film’s plot) deftly explores the fragility of not just relationships, but of life itself. (9/10)
|The hottest Willy Loman like ever|
Reviews by Kirby Holt, Movie Dearest creator, editor and head writer.