Saturday, October 31, 2020

Movie with Abe: The World Without You

The World Without You
Directed by Damon Shalit
Released November 1, 2020 (VOD)

The loss of a loved one is devastating even if the circumstances of their death are inherently natural and come at a moment where they are comfortable and surrounded by family or friends. The absence that ensues can be very difficult, and that’s compounded when there are unresolved issues related to the specifics of a person’s passing. It’s rare that everyone in their life had the same relationship with the deceased, and unpacking their complex and often conflicting emotions during the mourning process can be both painful and enlightening.

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of their brother Leo (Joel Reitsma), a journalist killed in Iraq, his adult siblings travel to the western Massachusetts home of their parents Marilyn (Suzanne C Johnson) and David (Chris Mulkey). Noelle (Annika Marks) and her husband Amram (P.J. Byrne), who are strictly observant Jews, arrive from Israel with their children, joining Clarissa (Perrey Reeves) and Nathan (James Tupper), Lily (Radha Mitchell), and Leo’s widow Thisbe (Lyndie Greenwood). Internal tensions and feelings of responsibility bubble to the surface as this extended family spends time together unpacking their emotions and struggling to find answers in the face of a senseless tragedy.

This film contains some strong personalities in the form of the three sisters, who all have different approaches to coping with grief and moving on with their lives. Lily is particularly prickly, picking fights with Amram, who she knew as a child before his religious turn, and expressing disdain for Noelle’s immersion in faith. Clarissa’s relationship with Nathan seems to be healthy, but they still have different ideas of what is okay to share with family. And Marilyn and David have their own problems that they’ve tried to keep hidden from the family, stemming most from a critical disagreement over how they have coped with the death of their son.

This drama features spirited performances from most of its cast, with Mitchell and Byrne succeeding well at creating on-screen rivals whose passions cannot peacefully coexist. Reeves, who typically plays more outspoken characters, lets others take center stage, and the reliable Mulkey delivers a sober and affecting turn. Marks is the true standout, channeling repressed energy into the way she interacts with her husband, her siblings, and her parents. This film is full of involving conversations and meditations on what loss means, as experienced by people who may have grown up together but have come to see the world in wildly disparate ways.


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