4 Stars

Krisha opens with a close-up of an older woman’s face, held for a surprisingly long time. Her expression is hard to read, but begging to be understood. Over the course of just over 80 minutes, that face will put herself and the audience, as well as the estranged family around her, through an emotional ringer.

Krisha is showing up for Thanksgiving dinner at her sister’s house for the first time in a decade. While everyone is initially eager to welcome her, it’s quickly clear that she may not be welcome there by everyone. It’s also clear that she’s not entirely sold on being there herself. She seems overwhelmed by the chaos of the day, between meal preparation and talking to family members. Her trips upstairs to her stash of pills only confirms that things will eventually go wrong. It’s just a matter of how wrong, especially as it becomes clear that Krisha is a recovering alcoholic, and she’s trying to reconnect to her long-estranged son in particular.

Krisha is a surprisingly taut film. There’s a gradual but constant sense of escalation to the family’s matters. While this type of film isn’t exactly new, it’s hard to think of one that avoids Hollywood clichés with such precision. Its conclusion pulls no punches, as it returns to that opening shot of Krisha’s face – this time, with many of our questions answered. Or are they?

Krisha • Rating: R (for language, substance abuse and some sexual content) • Runtime: 83 minutes • Genre: Drama • Cast: Krisha Fairchild, Robyn Fairchild, Trey Edward Shults, Victoria Fairchild, Billie Fairchild • Director: Trey Edward Shults • Writer: Trey Edward Shults • Distributor: A24

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