Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Krisha returns for Thanksgiving dinner after ten years away from her family, but past demons threaten to ruin the festivities.
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★★★★½ review by Adam Kempenaar on Letterboxd
Malick, Altman, Cassavetes' woman under the influence Rowlands... Evoking these names discredits Trey Edward Shults and his star Krisha Fairchild. This is a singular piece of cinema, using the tools of cinema – camera movement, framing, sound design, performance – to not just show us one woman's attempt at redemption for her former sins against her family, but to experience it with her. Moment by fragile moment.
...Probably didn't articulate that as eloquently as I hoped to. Fortunately, will have more chances this year when discussing 2016 Golden Brick contenders.
★★★★★ review by Wesley R. Ball on Letterboxd
A cacophony of external chaos and internal turmoil, Trey Edward Shults' freshman feature length film Krisha is a magnificently shot film that I'm shocked hasn't garnered more attention from the cinematic community. I recall reading a couple of reviews of this film earlier last year, when it was most likely premiered at festivals, but I never heard anything else about it until a week or so ago when I was made aware that it was showing near me. One look at the trailer, and I fell madly in love with the artistic cinematography style that Shults uses. Much like Mommy and Tom at the Farm, Shults utilizes three different aspect ratios to symbolize three different emotional points that Krisha experiences throughout the film: steadily normal (1.85:1), a dreamlike drunk (2.35:1, allowing the film to feel much more cinematic, or even like an idyllic television commercial), and a tense, claustrophobic feeling of being trapped (1.33:1). The quick transitions between these three aspect ratios was a sublimely brilliant symbolization that makes the film even more powerful in its tale of a wandering soul lost and on a path to self-destruction.
Krisha opens with a breathtaking tracking shot that perfectly sets up the title character's own psychological weaknesses. Between indecision, confusion, and awkward but genuine long-awaited family greetings, Shults sets up a ticking time bomb that could go off at any given moment. It's this brilliant handling and attempt at defusing this bomb that makes up the strongest points of Krisha. The film isn't so much about the destination, but rather about the journey- a slippery slide into implosion and ostracization. The frayed and distant connections that Krisha has maintained with her family are what drive the characters' emotions and conversations, creating a feeling of tension and friction that never lets up. As the story progresses, more and more is revealed about Krisha and her own tumultuous past with her family, and the cracks in her psyche become more and more apparent as her implied "black sheep" status is put forth. It's this tension and gradual revelation that draws you in fast enough for its lightning brief runtime, packing a staggeringly powerful shot into its 80 minutes.
The soundtrack is expertly crafted to synchronize with the crescendoing velocity that Krisha sets its course for. I don't think I've heard a soundtrack that so perfectly personifies its plot pace in quite a long time, as its adrenaline-pumping quality plays in perfect harmony with the story. Even if the director had chosen to stick with only one aspect ratio, the soundtrack would undeniably have been my absolutely favorite aspect of the film. It's such a spot on definition of "perfection" that I can't quite put it into words. I can just say that it's probably one of my personal favorite accompanying scores of this decade.
With its multiple aspect ratio gimmick in the spirit of Mommy and some cinematography that will give Emmanuel Lubezki a run for his money, Krisha is undoubtedly going to be the most underrated film of the year. The fact that I had heard almost nothing about this film outside of Letterboxd until recently is probably telling of just how public this film is going to get, so I'm saying this right now: go see Krisha as soon as you can! It's probably one of my favorite releases from A24, and solidifying evidence that they're quickly becoming one of the premier distributors of the best independent films today. I can't begin to tell you just how much this film spoke to me on a personal level, and yet on a technical level it's even more of a staggering achievement. It's not that something like this has never been seen before, but it's so immendly well done that I can't help but laud its qualities. Krisha is a short yet powerful drama that delivers an incredible amount of emotion in its brevity.
★★★★★ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
whoops re: when you've legitimately lived this film.
★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
Like Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, and David Lynch collaborated to remake Rachel Getting Married by committee (a perfectly plausible scenario), Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha collapses several generations of family trauma into a whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend that stretches the notion of 'unconditional love' to the breaking point. Shot in just nine days but obviously percolating for as many years, Shults’ SXSW-winning domestic drama – in which he co-stars with several members of his family, including his aunt in the title role – is a cataclysmic collision between the cinematic and the mundane.
★★★★★ review by Aaron Hendrix on Letterboxd
You are heartbreak incarnate.
Krisha starts with our titular protagonist lugging her baggage through muck, grass, and concrete. With ethereal grace, the camera swoops behind Krisha following her labyrinthian path to her family's home. This entire one-take tracking shot deftly establishes the entirety of the emotional fabric of this film with not a line of dialogue - save for Krisha's occasional comic curse.
This film is the lovechild of Malick's aesthetic sensibilities, Lynch's textural qualities, and Bergman's focus on interpersonal dynamics. As the film's drama ramps up, spiraling further and further down the drain, Krisha ties all of its mounting tension up in a spectacularly potent conclusion. Though the visuals are absolutely stunning, the discordant chimes and percussion of the soundtrack go a long way toward foreshadowing and, later, mimicking the clamorous drama on-screen. Yesterday I noted that O.J.: Made in America was the most thoroughly impressive work I've seen this year. Though I still think that Krisha can't eek out a spot above O.J., this film certainly takes the cake for my favorite film of the year.
Track this one down and watch it. I give Krisha a 5/5.
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