Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
Few filmmakers have been able to cobble together a truly compelling film shooting over just nine days with a cast of mostly family members and a Kickstarter budget, but with his debut Krisha, director Trey Edward Shults joins that exclusive club. The film may take place entirely in the director’s parent’s house and star his aunt, but it never feels compromised by that. If anything, it’s an asset.
Much of this has to do with the personal nature of the story. Not inspired by any one member of Shults’ family, but rather a mixture of several, the titular Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) shows up to her sister’s house on Thanksgiving after untold years of reclusivity – she’s the black sheep of the family, having abandoned not just her mother and siblings, but a son she couldn’t take care of.
The wounds Krisha caused everyone are still very present – one relative calls her “heartbreak incarnate”- but she tells them all that she has “healed” and is back to make things right. Yet we know that’s wishful thinking, partially from the tense atmosphere that Brian McOmber’s excellent score brings out and partially from Fairchild’s deftly unbalanced performance. As the evening goes on and Krisha stuffs and roasts the turkey for dinner, more pills are popped and smiles start to fade.
The film won the Grand Jury prize and the Narrative Feature Audience Award at SXSW, and it’s easy to see why. Shults, not only a writer/director but the editor and a co-star, makes what he’s doing with tension and backstory look easy. Still, at under 90 minutes it does feel more like a tease for what’s to come from him – Krisha works best as a character study, less so as an actual narrative.
Overall Grade: B
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