Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Movie Review: "Krisha" (2016)

Director: Trey Edward Shults
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

A woman named Krisha, who has struggled with substance abuse, spends Thanksgiving with her family for the first time in a decade...and it doesn't go well. 

"Krisha" is the feature film debut of writer/director Trey Edward Schults. It is about an older woman named Krisha, played by Krisha Fairchild, who has had past issues with substance abuse. For the first time in a decade, Krisha has come home to spend Thanksgiving with her extended family in an effort to make amends. It seems like everyone and their mother has come for this dinner, and it may or may not break Krisha's sobriety. In addition to Fairchild, many of the actors in the film are actually related to one another, and usually, but not always, share the same first name as their character.

This film is tagged as a comedy and drama on IMDB, but for the life of us, we can't fathom why it would be considered a comedy. This movie is a hard realist drama and doesn't even border on dark comedy. The film often has what feels like mumble-core interactions going on between the members of Krisha's vast extended family as she returns home, battered, jaded, and bruised by substance abuse, and is greeted by several people she hasn't seen in a long, long time. Several conversations overlap in a few scenes in an attempt to capture how a family get-together would actually feel and sound in real life. If you're sensitive to noise, this movie may not be for you because it can get calamitous at times. As dishes are being prepared, people gab with one another in the kitchen. Television noises are interrupted by a screaming baby, and the gentle hum of an intimate family conversation can quickly escalate to an argument at the drop of a hat.

Schults doesn't really go in depth with many of the characters. All we know is Krisha is an alcoholic and has had a falling out with her family, especially her sister and her now adult son. It feels like a decade plus has gone by since Krisha has been around, and this Thanksgiving day return was her idea in an effort to mend broken bridges. We hear she's been sober for some time, but it is obvious that one day with her family could push her resolve to the limits.

BigJ is not a fan of these overly cynical films that amount to little more than people being nasty towards each other, unless it serves some greater purpose. He hated most the characters by the end of this film, which turned him off of the movie as a whole. The only message he sees in "Krisha" is that we should treat those with addiction problems as pariahs. For BigJ, it isn't so clear how many chances the family has given Krisha over the year, and he believes she is genuinely trying to right the wrongs of her life, only to get ostracized the second she backslides. Her family, mainly her son, do not do much to aid in her recovery, and their actions and judgment send her running back to the bottle.

I, on the other hand, identify with "Krisha" on some level, no matter how small and no matter how different the circumstances. I think it gives an extremely realistic look at a family that has moved on without the person in question, and how it feels when they come back and automatically expect forgiveness. As harsh and as tough as it may seem, at some point, people have to preserve themselves, their families, and their loved ones and protect themselves from the constant strain and heartache associated with the letdowns of addiction. Someone who has been given a thousand chances to shape up and fix themselves, but refuses to do so for the sake of those they claim to love is just as damaging if not more so than the addiction itself. It can be a hard but necessary task. Krisha's family has clearly given her several opportunities to make amends and to fix what has been broken, and after so many missteps, sometimes, it's easier and less painful to let someone go if they will never change. Is that cynical? Perhaps. Is that heartbreaking? Absolutely yes, but so is life, and Shults shows the vicious, realistic underbelly of what it's like to love someone with a problem like Krisha.

In the end, "Krisha" is polarizing and definitely hard to watch, but we must commend Trey Edward Schults for making such a realistic piece of cinema on a short budget and with no big name stars. He uses the close quarters of a family get-together to his advantage, keeping the tensions just below simmering for most of the film until the entire pot-o-drama boils over to uncontainable and irreparable levels. It's passionate, but not the kind we're used to seeing in cinema, and it's cynical, much like life itself.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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