VOD film review: Krisha
Proof that family holidays always end in a massive argument10
Laurence Boyce | On 14, Mar 2017
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Krisha Fairchild, Alex Dobrenko, Robyn Fairchild
Watch Krisha online in the UK: MUBI UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
Coming with a sparkling reputation from the film festival circuit – it premiered and won awards at SXSW and screened in competition at Cannes Critics’ Week – Krisha is a tension-filled drama in which the cracks beneath the brittle veneer of familial solidarity are exposed.
We begin with Krisha (Fairchild) coming to the home of her sister, Robyn, for Thanksgiving. It becomes apparent that Krisha has been absent for a while and – as the house fills with relatives – there is a cordial yet subtly awkward relationship between her and everyone else. As the day wears on, with Krisha offering to cook the family turkey, it becomes apparent that Krisha is recovering from demons in her past. But as she tries to reconnect with her erstwhile son, the wheels begin to fall off and Krisha’s demons look determined to return.
From the outset, Shults displays a subtle yet confident approach to the material. Beginning with an almost eight-minute continuous take, which sees Krisha going back to her family, the film has an immediate sense of measurement and control. But as the noise and chaos of a large family begin to chip away at Krisha’s resolve, the editing becomes more frenetic, while a discordant electronic score makes everything even more unsettling. While Krisha is very much a family drama, Shults mildly flirts with horror tropes, from the soundtrack to the dark shadows of the house in which Krisha finds himself.
The film offers little in exposition and its slow build of revelations and character interactions create a palpable tension. When things do finally come to a head, it’s both devastating and strangely cathartic, as recriminations and anger fly around the room.
The ensemble cast is a mixture of professional and non-professional actors, many of whom are Shults’ own family (with Shults himself playing Krisha’s son). This adds a certain rawness to the film that works very much in its favour. At the centre of it all is Krisha Fairchild (Shults’ aunt), who provides a searing portrayal of the titular character. She manages to imbue the contradictions inherent in the character – a 60-something woman who still refuses to accept any responsibility, a sister who wants to make amends despite the anger she feels towards a family who rejected her – and project a vulnerability that elicits sympathy, despite her destructive actions.
Krisha’s dark portrayal of human failings and brilliant performances mark it out from typical US indie fare. A striking and confident directorial debut.
Krisha is now available on MUBI UK, as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription.