The Grief of Others
Directed by Patrick Wang
The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just fifty-seven hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. The couple's children, ten-year-old Biscuit and thirteen-year-old Paul, responding to the unnamed tensions around them, begin to act out in exquisitely idiosyncratic ways. But as the family members scatter into private, isolating grief, an unexpected visitor arrives, and they find themselves growing more alert to the hurt, humor, warmth, and burdens of others—to the grief that is part of every human life but that also carries within it the power to draw us together.
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★★★★★ review by Graham L. Carter on Letterboxd
The kind of movie I can plant my flag in and say ‘this is what I want from art!’ Totally magical and singular—crammed full of ideas, tackling the biggest issues in every way imaginable, so subtle but not afraid of Cameron Croweing or Alan Rudolphing every once in a while.
★★★★½ review by Scout Tafoya on Letterboxd
Remarkable piece of work. Begs to be seen. Wang gets the details of this family perfectly right. I dated someone whose house so reminds me of the one in this film, and it was amazing to see him treat the lifestyle of so many disparate, clearly troubled people with such grace and love. There is no judgment on his part, but he's savvy enough to know that the way they view their mistakes is a big part of their identity. His devices for capturing the way guilt intrudes on the present are too good.
★★★½ review by Matthew Lingo on Letterboxd
What feels notable to me in this film is the space Wang gives his characters as they process trauma. There's an early scene where a teenage boy encounters someone from his past, someone he hasn't seen in years. He goes to his room and reflects on his memories of this person, which are presented to us as these evasive auditory fragments. And the film just stays there, and it watches him think. It really moved me.
★★★★ review by fightclubitis on Letterboxd
Avant-Première – Le Méliès – Followed by a Q&A with Patrick Wang
the movie itself is quite an experience. i say that because there's the story on one hand, and on the other hand are all the tricks and choices of Wang that envelop the story. and it's thank to those tricks that are created many metaphores and imageries, that all point to a same general idea (won't spoil it). and it's tough to spot them all from the first watch (it's easier when they're explained to you afterwards).
now, i found the story quite dull from time to time (TALK PEOPLE), but despite that i'm eager to watch it again in order to spot everything i missed the first time.
Wand didn't want to talk extensively about the meaning of the story (likes to leave it to the imagination) but he had some very interesting comments, in particular about how he shot the movie (super 8 & 16) and how it allowed him to do all these superimpositions. for example, the opening sequence was "crafted" by superimposing super 8 footage (for the actual scene) and super 16 footage for the color (he used a piece of cloth).
★★★½ review by Daniel Tucker on Letterboxd
*Originally Posted on Next Projection*
Based on a novel by Leah Hager Cohen, Patrick Wang’s second feature film is basically Rabbit Hole with an ill-advised dash of American Beauty/Little Children. The story about a family trying to get back on its feet after losing a baby is simple enough but so incredibly ripe with potential, and Wang throws some truly harrowing drama onto the screen. Of particular frustration in the film is the fact that not all characters are as fleshed out as others, and some generic comedic characters certainly don’t fit in with the grand scheme of things. I’m not sure if its an issue with the source material or not. Wang’s approach to filming a scene in which he places his camera in one location and lets his actors create the drama is particularly of interest, as is his unique ways of multiple exposure that hearken back to some silent film techniques, though undoubtedly for some viewers this minimalist approach will make for frustrating viewing. Regardless, The Grief of Others is a wonderful acting showcase that also highlights a director with a unique vision.
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