Sunday, October 14, 2018

Movie Review: "Stella's Last Weekend" (2018)

Director: Polly Draper
Year: 2018
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

The bond between two brothers is put to the test when they discover they are in love with the same woman.

Stella's Last Weekend 2018 movie still Alex Wolff Nat Wolff Polly Draper
"I'm a millennial, Jack, mom works for me." (Image Source)
It's a historical fact that if a movie has a dog's name in the title, you can expect massive waterworks before the final credits roll. "Stella's Last Weekend" is written and directed by Polly Draper. She also stars in the film as Sally, the mother Jack and Oliver, who are played by her real-life sons Nat and Alex Wolff. It really is a family affair. Jack (Nat Wolff) is on his way home from college to spend one last weekend with his aged-family dog Stella before she is to be put down. On the way home, he sees and recognizes a woman across his train platform, who turns out to be the woman he was in love with after they shared a night of talking and kissing, but ghosted him after the party was over and disappeared from his life as quickly as she appeared. When Jack gets home, his younger brother Oliver (Alex Wolff) tells him about his amazing girlfriend, who he been dating for a few months and thinks he is in love with. When Violet (Paulina Singer) shows up at their house, it turns out she is the girl who disappeared from Jack's life. Jack, Oliver, and Violet must now navigate a dangerous minefield of confused emotions that are bound to leave someone if not everyone hurt.
Stella's Last Weekend 2018 movie still Nat Wolff
"I always feel like the before photo of a Proactiv commercial with her." (Image Source)
We didn't know much about "Stella's Last Weekend" going into it. Heck, we didn't even know the name Stella was referring to a family dog. All we knew was that it was written and directed by Polly Draper that starred her sons, the very talented, very capable Wolff brothers. We wound up really, really enjoying this movie. It explores the bond between brothers and shows how those bonds can be tested from various outside forces and deep-seeded jealousies. It focuses on a true love triangle where Violet loves both brothers, both brothers love her, and both brothers love each other. No matter what occurs, someone, if not all the parties involved, are bound to get hurt, and lasting scars are sure to happen.

Everyone involved in this project gives a terrific performance, and all of the characters have fantastic chemistry with one another. This is understandable since a good chunk of the cast is related. Sometimes you just can't fake those kinds of connections! The Wolff brothers play extremely well off of one another and have several show-stopping moments of shocking laugh-out-loud humor and hard-hitting drama. The characters of Oliver and Jack also have a great dynamic with their mother as well. Sally seems like she is a bit of a pushover when it comes to her kids as she lets them get away with damn near everything. Some audience members may be off-put with the parent/children relationship portrayed here since Jack, Ollie, and Sally are all very open and honest (sometimes to a fault) with one another. Some may find their interactions and attitudes towards their mother disrespectful, but these engagements felt realistic to us, and we identified with them because our moms are so cool that we saw a little bit of them in the character of Sally. Another standout performance is given by Nick Sandow, who plays Sally's boyfriend and chicken restaurant magnate Ron. Sandow kills it as an old-school, traditional values kind of chap who holds his own with Sally's raucous boys who are quick to throw a middle finger and a bald joke in his general direction. Of course, we can't talk about "Stella's Last Weekend" without mentioning the real star of the show, Stella! The dog they got to play this canine character was so damn adorable. During the Q&A at the San Diego International Film Festival, we learned that this perfect pooch was actually a rescue dog that Polly Draper herself adopted so she could both do a good deed and have the star of her film.
Stella's Last Weekend 2018 movie still Alex Wolff
"What if she liked the octopus more than the bunny?" (Image Source)
"Stella's Last Weekend" is an adorable, humorous, honest movie. We had such a good time watching this film! We highly recommend you check it out as soon as you can!

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~6.2/10
RT Rating: ~64%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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