Other People is a new film written and directed by Chris Kelly and it stars Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon and Bradley Whitford.
Other People is about coping with the death of a family member. In the film Joanne, played by Molly Shannon has cancer and her son, David, played by Jesse Plemons, comes home from New York City to care for her. Throughout the film we learn about David’s life and how it isn’t going so well, he has recently broken up with his boyfriend and his career as a television writer isn’t going very well. All of these things are going wrong in David’s life and then his mother gets cancer.
The film is a very unpretentious look at death and grieving. Often times when the characters find themselves confronting their mother or wife’s death it is during an awkward moment. Like when David and his mother go to the school Joanne taught at before she was diagnosed with cancer. David and Joanne are having lunch with all of her former coworkers and the woman who is replacing her asks her to tell a famous story about how one of her students brought a dead chicken to show and tell. As she tries to tell the story the teacher can’t hear what Joanne is saying due to Joanne’s voice being affected by the cancer. Joanne’s cancer is like an elephant in the room that no one really knows how to deal with because to speak of it would be far too sad. And we are just left in this awkward moment between two strangers and all of their friends.
Even Joanne, a cancer victim, which is nothing but a sympathetic character is presented without any great embellishment. She feels like a real person going through a tragic event. And so at times she is selfish and a little bit spoiled and difficult. This character, with cancer, is who she was when she didn’t have cancer and that is kind of beautiful.
There were many beautiful moments throughout this film that were achieved through awkward, everyday social faux pas. Like when David and his family are in New York City at David’s improv show and two of his fellow cast members comment on how his mother looks like she’s doing better and David has to explain that that is because she has stopped her chemo treatments, implying that she will die soon. As he explains this, his sister and the two friends they are talking to start crying. You can see the pain and fear in their eyes and then a random friend barges into their conversation to catch up with David, totally unaware of the scene she walked into and David is forced to make awkward small talk while everyone around him is in tears.
Molly Shannon’s performance in this movie is quite breathtaking. First and foremost she plays a mother and you can really see that the performance. She’s always repeating things over and over again, trying to get her family to behave. And she has scenes that just destroy you, like the moment she decides she wants to die and she just keeps repeating that David has to see his sisters. It is beautiful and soul crushing all at the same time.
One performance that is a little weird is Jesse Plemons, who plays David. Plemons plays his character very subtly. The character is a little awkward and shy and Plemons really incorporates that into his performance. There are time when you don’t really know what David is thinking but I think that speaks to the character who seems very confused about life and what is happening to his mother.
Overall, this is a very beautiful movie, but beautiful in its simplicity it’s success comes from how it creates relatable moments in a movie about tragedy. And that is something very impressive.
Thank you all for reading this review and have a wonderful day.