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Sundance Film Festival: Chris Kelly's "Other People" hilarious and heartbreaking
Jan 23, 2016 | 6486 views | 0 0 comments | 727 727 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo by Brian Burgoyne (DP)
Photo by Brian Burgoyne (DP)

No rating, but probably R for sex, language and thematic material

Written and directed by Chris Kelly

Starring Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, June Squibb and more


In real life, laughter and tears often happen in the same breath.

That's both the best and hardest thing to take about "Other People," the funny but wrenching movie by Chris Kelly. The semi-autobiographical film chronicles a comedy writer's year at home as he helps his dying mother, and it captures the tangle of ridiculousness and pain so well that it can actually get a little uncomfortable to watch at times. We don't really expect movies to get the truth quite this accurately.

That's not the only aspect of real life the movie captures so well. The balance of family dynamics was amazing, love and resentment and old issues all stirring up together. The portrayal of living at home after being out on your own is also amazingly accurate. Whether you've moved back to your small down or are once again living in your parents home, there's a faint smothering feeling that seems inescapable.

Of course, none of this could have been brought to life without the right cast. Plemons and Shannon have wonderful chemistry together, allowing us to see their entire lifetime together as mother and son in even the smallest interactions. They also both have excellent comic timing, and between them generate some of the show's funniest moments. Some of the biggest belly laughs, however, go to J.J. Totah, who plays the dramatically scene-stealing little brother of one of the main character's friends.

By the end, there had been belly laughs and tears in equal measure. The story might have been fictionalized, but the experience felt all too real. 

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