1hr 46mins

New beginnings are haunted by the past and still passing in this powerful study of family and the crumbling walls that talk. In his debut film, acclaimed writer Stephen Karam directs an adaptation of his own Tony Award-winning play of the same name, creating a sensitive and frank portrayal of disintegration and memory in an American family and, by poetic extension, the rumbling apartment in which they gather.

Stephen Karam

Beginning with a housewarming for a young couple (Brigid and Richard, played by Beanie Feldstein of Booksmart and Stevie Yeun, seen recently in Minari) as they attempt to settle in a decaying apartment in Chinatown; a family home laden with generational echoes and rumbling histories.

The occasion of Thanksgiving dinner becomes the familiar locus of unresolved tensions and unexpected revelation as the film unravels – along with its characters – through spilt secrets, confessions and, increasingly, the eerie sense that mental stability might be sliding into the same ruin that befalls the building.

Karam has the nuanced ability to conversationally tunnel through difficult topics with sharply observed humour and pathos, allowing characters to communicate complex socio-economic realities alongside shifting psychological experiences (specifically exploring depression and dementia with depth and insight).

With Jayne Houdyshell (Little Women, Garden State) beautifully reprising her original stage role as Brigid’s mother, Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water, Spotlight) as the father, Amy Schumer (Trainwreck) as the older daughter and June Squibb (Nebraska, About Schmidt) in a painfully observed performance as the grandmother living with dementia.

Understated naturalism lends each performance its own quiet conviction, turning effortlessly between heart-breaking, comical, unexpectedly tense and the deeply profound.

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