Written & Directed By: Chris Kelly
Cinematography By: Brian Burgoyne
Editor: Patrick Colman
Cast: Jesse Plemmons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, June Sqibb, Paula Pell, Matt Walsh, Paul Dooley, Kerri Kenney, Zach Woods, Mike Mitchell, Lynne Marie Stewart, Nicole Byer, Lennon Parham
Follows David as he moves back home to be with his mother for the year between her giving up her fight against cancer and slowly dying. David’s relationship with his family is, at best, strained (especially in regard to his father) because of an apparent difficulty in accepting his homosexuality. Although the subject matter is genuinely distressing, his mothers death ultimately helps restore his familial bonds and become an integrated part of the family unit again.
The film is a familiar oddity as it has a quirky look at grief and suffering. That despite itself feels honest. As the patriarch of a family suffers so do the individual family members who all try to keep a smile at first but are slowly breaking down themselves emotionally. As the film feel autobiographical and allows the improv community to find it’s way into the film and offer as a sort of healing.
It’s a familiar story though presented from a different point of view. Where each character has time to be fully formed. Even if though they are individual they are there to give some kind of purpose, advice, or experience for the main character. Kind of like guides of a sort on a journey.
There are so many moments where all the characters seem to have a sense of humor about the situations they face.
The film offers an intimate look, but covers a lot of ground. Essentially a year in all the characters lives. While we mainly deal with the son played by Jessie Plemmons character a gay struggling comic and writer’s grief and all the things going on around him. Such as ending a relationship and dating while trying to take care of his mother and family.
Which is a step up for Plemmons as it is nice to see him get to play a role you wouldn’t think of him in and he is quite impressive and funny. Especially in a rare leading man role instead of the usual character type roles he plays.
You will be happy other characters get attention especially his sisters who are pleasant but call him out for being selfish to a degree and always playing the victim about his own grief. Never really considering others also are going their this and when they try to bond and share their feelings with him. He chooses to run off.
Which also gives us insight to his flaws. While we watch him constantly complain about everyone else it seems.
The film also deals with the family conflicts that continue and don’t necessarily get resolved just when the movie is ending. Especially between the son and his father who is still not really accepting or comfortable with him being gay and having a steady relationship. He refuses to meet his boyfriend or even come into their apartment.
Though the film deals with the main characters sexuality it doesn’t define him or make it all encompassing. Nor the main focus, it is felt with more how one would deal with a romantic comedy. The complications and the funny situations.
The film offers representation of a character we are not familiar with and while the film is autobiographical and in the end we all have our stories. The film feels familiar also it tries to put it’s own spin on certain situations and scenes which are amusing and come off more as quirky and thankfully though it does come to an end.
It does my try to have an ending where everything is solved and everyone is at peace. Though remains a crowd pleaser.
Molly Shannon’s performance is full circle and amazing funny, sad and poignant as her character slowly succumbs to her terminal illness. You can’t help but notice she and her character are so full of life. That it distresses you as you slowly watch it vanish and no matter what even though she is a supporting character. She haunts the film throughout as her presence is that strong. She is one of the best things in this movie that continuously keeps it afloat. She feels like the whole movie. Though this is a film that gives her respect and let’s her show the talent she has and finally gives her a showcase more for her dramatic side. As in the past but not as much recently has she had the chance to show her more comedic. She seems to always be a hidden weapon in no matter what film or projects she appears in.
What is most shocking is that she was a replacement for Sissy Spacek who had to drop out for another project.