|Director(s)||Trey Edward Shults|
|Principal Cast||Krisha Fairchild as Krisha|
Robyn Fairchild as Robyn
Bill Wise as Doyle
Trey Edward Shults as Trey
|Running Time||81 minutes|
Having already seen It Comes at Night, I expected Shults’s directorial debut, Krisha, to be ambiguous and unsettling. Though the story managed to get under my skin to an even greater degree than his sophomore feature, it’s much more straight-forward and clear. This is the story of Krisha, a women who returns to the family she abandoned in an attempt to patch things up during Thanksgiving. It doesn’t follow your typical story structure. There’s not one or two dramatic encounters into levity into redemption. This story is real, painful, and manages to explore the damage troubled family members can have on the whole unit in a truly visceral way that isn’t afraid to hold anything back.
The story starts off as Krisha parks her car and attempts to locate her estranged family’s household. We’re immediately given a view into her state of mind and it sets the tone for the disorienting events to come. She talks to herself, talks to inanimate objects, get irritated at inconveniences, and demonstrates a familiar but distant intimacy with her estranged family who all greet her with varied degrees of enthusiasm. From the loving embrace of her sister Robyn to the strange aloofness one of the youngsters, Trey, the movie makes it obvious that there’s a lot of history between Krisha and her kin and that she’s been gone for a long time. You know there’s something wrong there.
I love the way the movie is cut, scored, and presented. It’s a visually unique experience that makes the “estranged family member returns story” far more interesting. Events are inter cut and presented to keep a constant sense of action and uneasiness at play. Every time you feel safer in one scenario, the tension in another inter cut scene starts to ratchet up. There are lots of tracking shots and arc shots that are used to prolong this sense of uneasiness and create disorientation. In particular, one kitchen scene involving an arc shot got me feeling panicked and frantic as it constantly accelerated in speed. The music compliments what’s happening on the screen by accentuating the progression of Krisha’s journey. Early on we’re bombarded by discordant noises that make it impossible to focus yourself. It’s almost like Krisha can’t handle the intensity of coming back to her family and we’re right there with her. Later on music plays, the lyrics serving as a poetic backdrop to Krisha’s journey and transformation up till that point. Sound always has a purpose. All together the audio-visual elements breathe new life into the genre by taking commonplace Thanksgiving activities and functions far more tense than they need to be . It’s an an assault on the senses that never gives you a moment to settle in.
What sells the movie is just how real it all feels. Every performance is on point, but Krisha absolutely steals the show. From the way she looks to the way she carries herself, you can tell that she’s gone through a lot. Her panic translates in her frantic movements and uneasy quiet. The family interactions accurately convey the damage abusive family relationships can have. Members are constantly shown apart from Krisha, having moved forward in spite of her absence. Family interactions with Krisha are varied. Some are kind and open like Robyn, while others are more suspicious like Doyle, Krisha’s brother-in-law. It all comes together to paint a picture of the places families are willing to go to help those who fall of the beaten path. Simultaneously it doesn’t try and sugarcoat the trauma that comes from the abuse at play. The nuance hit me in how familiar it reminded me of my own experiences.
I only wish the movie was a bit longer, because I was interested in some of the hinted family drama that never gets revealed. I thought fleshing out certain character relations a bit more would make later conversations more relevant, but I never felt like I had a lack of information, so this might be more of a nitpick.
|TLDR||Krisha follows its titular namesake as she tries to re-integrate with her estranged family during Thanksgiving. However Shults has no intention of making this your typical rehabilitation story filled with positivity and Hallmark cliches. From the shot composition to the score, the movie injects every scene with palpable tension as we watch with baited breath, hoping Krisha can right the ship. This is a nerve-wracking and emotionally painful trip, but is definitely one worth taking.|
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!