Dispatches from Cannes: What Addiction Does To Families

Dispatches from Cannes: What Addiction Does To Families
Krisha is a lo-fi debut with the ring of hard-won truth. —

The world of movies tends to portray addiction in a certain dramatic light. Think tragic losers on a downward plummet towards the social fringes such as Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Rarely do we see the banal factors that sandwich self-destruction. Rarely do we see self-destruction rippling outwards, casting well-meaning loved ones in impossible positions.

Krisha is a very personal debut by Texan filmmaker, Trey Edward Shults. He cast his family in key roles. His mother, Robyn Fairchild, plays Robyn, sister to Krisha, played by his aunt, Krisha Fairchild.

Events hinge on Krisha arriving at her sister’s home for the family thanksgiving dinner. With her untamed grey-white tresses and floaty clothing, sixty-something Krisha could be mistaken for the family free spirit. She curses as she drags her luggage to the right door, unsure of where she is and what she’s doing. But big gatherings can be stressful. There’s nothing abnormal to see here, right?

Shults set a very natural dynamic of loved ones hanging out. There is a certain frisson of anxiety emanating from and surrounding Krisha that slowly blossoms into a pattern that only grows more painful and disappointing for the fact that it becomes clear that it is an oft-repeated one. The brilliance of the film stems from he fact that it loops around, eloquently illustrating both the perspective of a woman whose sobriety is too tender to survive the blows life has stored up, and the perspectives of a family that has too many members to always put one woman first.

Krisha is a story that doesn’t look at the causes of alcoholism or the possible solutions for it. It takes the illness as a fact as solid as a turkey dinner and squares up to how that plays out. Although truthful visualisation is the main goal herein, the even-handedness of the chracterisations is such that we observers can ponder what it is that sufferers of this maddening addiction need.

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