Friday, November 25, 2016

Everybody's worst Thanksgiving

And now for a little tonal shift from yesterday's message of hope ...

If you just can't get into a head space to give thanks this year, and just want to tear it all down, just want to watch a movie that languishes in the apocalyptic misery of everybody's worst family Thanksgiving, you could do far worse than Krisha, the film I watched last night as a Thanksgiving-themed viewing. ("Thanksgiving"  was yesterday in Australia -- meaning it was Thursday, November 24th, otherwise known as one of the last days of spring. We did eat turkey, but it was a turkey dish I invented that features ground turkey, grilled onions, grilled peppers, Tabasco, chilli powder, canned tomatoes, tomato paste and a layer of broiled cheese over the top.)

Any number of Thanksgiving films look into the disasters that result from long-estranged family members reuniting, possibly against their will, for a late November feast, and maybe also an olive branch. But Krisha has a special caustic edge to it, an unwillingness to compromise its vision of the most pessimistic possible incarnation of that Thanksgiving gathering. And it doesn't accomplish this with ridiculous, over-the-top set pieces, like you might see in National Lampoon's Thanksgiving Vacation. No, this is just straight up human misery.

A lot of liberals are probably calling this their worst Thanksgiving ever. But at least it's not as bad as the one Krisha has in this movie.

I won't go too much into what happens, but I will warn you: Watch out. This is not some happy Thanksgiving viewing for the family. As the poster would probably suggest to you anyway.

One thing I did want to point out: The filmmaker, Trey Edward Shults, has cast almost entirely members of his family to play ... well, members of his family. He plays a central figure in the movie, and Krisha is played by his real aunt, named Krisha Fairchild. Strikingly, none of them really comes off as an amateur, and there's some real heavy lifting in the acting department, especially by Fairchild. I don't want to contemplate how closely this may have been inspired by something that really happened in his family, and whether any of these people are actually playing a version of themselves that's similar to the real version. More likely, he just wanted/needed to make the movie on the cheap, so he cast actors he could get to work for almost nothing. Whatever the case, their status as actual family members works in a number of ways, from the less important (they actually look like each other) to the more important (they have a preexisting relationship that informs their performances).

Don't think there's much chance you'll feel more hopeful about the world after watching this movie, but maybe that's the Thanksgiving you want to have -- despairing, and reveling in it.

If that's the case, boy have I got a movie for you.

No comments: