Tuesday, August 8, 2017

In short: Krisha (2015)

I believe there’s hardly a more typical stage for an US indie movie than a family thanksgiving dinner, but then, that’s probably the only thing in Trey Edward Shults’s film you’d describe as typical. Made for a piddling sum, mostly with members of the director’s family - like the director’s aunt Krisha Farichild in a truly incredible performance in the title role - and close friends in front and behind of the camera, this is a heart-breaking film about everything that divides us from the people we are meant to be closest to. The film charts breaks and breaking points between and inside of its characters relentlessly, finding the moments of greatest hurt without expositing about them, and without ever looking away. Yet Shults never loses compassion either, not just for Krisha, a recovering alcoholic making a doomed attempt to mend bridges where she should probably rather first have tried to secure phone lines, but for the people she’s hurt, too – usually for everyone at once, making it nearly impossible for a viewer to make it easy on herself and choose a character as The Bad Guy. This makes for harrowing viewing, to say the least – though the film can at times be drily funny too – as painfully honest art sometimes does.

Stylistically, Shults often uses techniques usually connected to the horror genre, not as a way to distance himself ironically from what he is showing nor the audience from what it is seeing, but because what we are seeing – or rather experiencing – indeed is a horror film for everyone involved. In fact, I suspect adding a masked killer to the proceedings would probably improve the characters’ day immensely.

Emotionally, Krisha is as touching as films go, demonstrating how great, involved filmmaking and what I can only describe as conviction and clarity of vision can move the most jaded viewer.

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