I’m working on becoming a more spiritual person.
If you’ve gotten weary of pretentious indie films that promise a lot, but don’t deliver, then rejoice! Krisha has burst out of Houston like a film possessed. It’s a tiny film, definitively indie, made for under $15,000 and in nine days, but it’s a magnificent masterpiece that heralds great things for its director, making his feature debut. It’s the tale of an idyllic family Thanksgiving gathering and the havoc wreaked when the troubled Krisha, a woman in her sixties who hasn’t been in contact with her family for a decade, arrives to make peace. But peace is not what comes. It’s a really wonderfully put together film. Shults has a vision for disorienting his audience with a strange, dissonant, horror-movie score and chaotic, never-quiet sound design. As the film goes on and Krisha becomes less and less present in her own mind, the film becomes increasingly abstract, filled with strange flashes of events, representations of events in a different style, a weird dreamlike atmosphere that makes you wonder how much of what you’re seeing is actually happening and how much is the weird fever dream of the main character as she falls off the wagon, back into addiction. The performances are brilliant, particularly that of Krisha Fairchild in the lead. Her work here is some of the most emotionally raw acting you’ll see all year, whether she’s struggling to hold her anxiety together, giving vent to her rage or allowing herself to fall into despair. She’s never less than absolutely real and the film is a maniacal, unsettling experience. As a picture of addiction, it’s harrowing, almost too unpleasant at times. It’s not an easy watch, but it’ll stick with you for a long, long time. It’s a film that will be divisive I’m sure; Shults isn’t interested in telling a plot-heavy story or in hitting the beats of any kind of redemptive story. In a way, Shults isn’t even interested in tragedy – this unfolds in such a dark and gripping way that it doesn’t even have the redemptive catharsis of tragedy. It’s a film that doesn’t end as much as stop. There isn’t the satisfaction of watching even a dark film with this movie; there’s only the horrible experience of it, the absolute truth of its depiction of emotional breakdown. Watch Shults; he’s bound for greatness. Well, hell, what do I mean bound? He’s there already. 4 stars.
tl;dr – harrowing indie film captures a startling, gripping portrait of family dysfunction and addiction; a difficult, brutal film that leaves the viewer drained and unsettled. 4 stars.