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Krisha - Addiction Ruins Thanksgiving, Tears Family Apart

Matthew Parkinson | 19 Mar 2016 16:00
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Directed and written by Trey Edward Shults. Produced by J.P. Castel and Jonathan R. Chan. Release date: March 18, 2016.

Addiction can ruin even the best of us. The daily struggle of a recovering addict can seem unwinnable. Krisha is a film that deals with this, following the eponymous lead (played by Krisha Fairchild), alcoholic older woman who has been estranged from her family for some time but claims she's got her act together. So, then, she returns to them at one of the most opportune - or inopportune - times: Thanksgiving. Even for those not dealing with some sort of illness, Thanksgiving can be a trying time. One can only imagine how difficult it would be for someone like Krisha.

Actually, we don't need to imagine, since Krisha is a film that does a phenomenal job of showcasing exactly how this might feel. The second shot of the film, a take of several minutes which sees Krisha arrive in the neighborhood, get lost, and eventually find herself embraced in a lukewarm manner by her family. Just in the opening moments, we feel her anxiety, and can already tell that this probably won't go well. She probably knows that, too. Still, she dons a brave face and attempts to deal with an overwhelming situation.

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Of course, we don't initially know exactly why Krisha was estranged from the family. That only comes up later, during various conversations and then one particularly explosive argument. We know something caused a rift - one which likely won't be fixed with a single holiday - but aren't 100% sure what. We know Krisha isn't stable, and as the film progresses, her nerves unravel to a predictable conclusion. The background chit-chat and sideways glances become unbearable. This is a psychologically powerful drama.

There are a few things that sets Krisha apart from its contemporaries. The first is Krisha herself, who is the type of person whom we rarely see in movies, and here delivers such a tremendous performance that you can't take your eyes off her. We've seen lots of addiction stories before, but rarely with an older woman and not often with this sense of intimacy. And, as it turns out, that intimate feeling isn't fake; writer-director Trey Edward Shults cast a lot of his family in the film, and its story is based, at least in part, on real events.

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