A woman under the influence of pain, regret and a ton of prescription medication, 60-something Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) enters the home of her estranged family in a mental haze. She's a recovering alcoholic whoís been invited to Thanksgiving dinner hoping to make amends for countless decades of disappointment. For some reason the turkey is hers alone to prepare.
Krisha likes to dramatize the process of mounting pressure, both through small narrative knife twists and flashy aesthetics. The jarring score and creepily slow zooms surround the lead character with oppressive style, ogling every moment of discomfort produced by her black sheep status. Nearly every other character is simply a reminder of breathing trauma.
Director Trey Edward Shults' dizzying psychodrama immediately establishes its brutal tone. A glaringly artificial long take meticulously stalks Krisha for nearly five minutes as she maneuvers the tricky terrain of the family gathering. Dogs bark, teenagers rough house, and men yell at the television. It's just another day in suburban hell.
This rigorous approach purposefully turns the viewer's perspective into just another numb bystander watching a slow motion car wreck of antipathy and judgment. Shults is obviously trying to evoke the work of John Cassavetes, but the film has none of his humanity or brute honesty. Fairchild does her best Gena Rowlands impression, and her performance is often a stunning mish mash of anxiety and rage.
Krisha, which opens Friday, March 25, injects everyday interactions and casual dialogue with a heightened level of toxicity. Making his debut as a feature filmmaker after working for years under the tutelage of Terrence Malick, Shults can't quite help himself from over-directing every moment. He's seemingly lived this subject matter, even casting himself as Krisha's long tormented son. But being this close to the material has swayed his film into the realm of misery porn.
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Krisha: An estranged woman returns home to Thanksgiving with her family only to fall prey to the demons of the past.
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One Time Only
Batman (1989) vs. Superman (1978): Jack Nicholson in face paint or Christopher Reeves in spandex? Luckily on this night, you don’t have to choose. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Brooklyn: A young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) travels to New York City against her mother’s wishes only to get pulled back home by familial expectation. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Ghostbusters: Bill Murray and the boys kick Slimer’s butt and save New York City from an army of ghouls. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at the Ken Cinema.
Blazing Saddles: Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder star in this subversive Western spoof by the great Mel Brooks. Cook up a pot of beans! Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at the Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: A snarky teen (Matthew Broderick) plays hooky and convinces a few friends to do the same, much to the chagrin of his authoritarian principal. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.