It wasn’t a stretch for the Sundance Film Festival to include Other People in its opening night lineup. With a plot about a struggling writer returning home to care for his cancer-stricken mother, it ticks about as many indie trope boxes as you can without feeling like an overstuffed mess.
Familiarity, however, does not make a film bad, and Other People has a solid backbone that should lift it above comparable films. Writer/director Chris Kelly is pulling from his own mother’s death and his history of writing for television projects like Broad City and SNL to make the comedy and drama blend evenly. The film looks like a mixture of the intimate moments in James White and the seriously funny scenes from The Skeleton Twins, which would be an affectingly funny combination if done right.
But no matter how well Kelly crafts the film, it will live and die on the performances of the mother and son, who could hardly be better cast. Jesse Plemons has been a just-barely-not-famous mainstay of television and film for years now, turning in consistently excellent performances that makes you wonder why his profile isn’t bigger than it is.
For the mother, Kelly landed SNL alum Molly Shannon, who’s peppered in enough dramatic roles to leave little doubt about her range. Their pairing gives the film enough cred for me to buy a ticket, and that’s not even mentioning the solid supporting cast and the Audience Award it took home from Sundance.
You certainly know what you’re going to get from Other People, but with so many pieces looking so strong, familiarity shouldn’t be a deterrent.
Other People is directed by Chris Kelly and stars Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, and Bradley Whitford. It will be released in the U.S. on September 9th, 2016. Further release dates are not currently known.
Do you think Other People will rise above its familiar tropes? Let us know in the comments!
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