Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Disney+ presentation of “Hamilton,” the most popular musicals of recent years, the psychological drama of “Shirley” and the crime thrillers “American Woman” and “Strange But True.”
“Strange But True,” a neo-noir thriller on VOD starring Amy Ryan and Margaret Qualley, examines grief in the context of an ordinary family thrown into extraordinary situations.
The action takes place against the backdrop of loss. Five years ago Ronnie Chase (Connor Jessup) and Melissa’s (Margaret Qualley) prom night began as they all do, with a rented tux, a frilly dress and proud parents taking photos. It ended in tragedy, with Ronnie dead in a car crash, an event that sent shock waves through the family. Stricken, his folks Charlene (Amy Ryan) and Richard (Greg Kinnear), split under the weight of their grief. Younger brother Philip (Nick Robinson) hightails it to NYC to pursue his dream of being a photographer and girlfriend Melissa is wracked with guilt, left with only her dreams of her late boyfriend.
Cut to present day. Charlene’s life has fallen apart. Her husband and job are gone, so when Melissa shows up, five years after the fateful night, claiming she is pregnant with Ronnie’s baby, she is not met with hugs and congratulations.
“If you think about it,” says Phillip, home recuperating from a badly broken leg, “there’s a chance what she said is true. If, and it’s a big if, if Ronnie’s sperm was somehow frozen before he died there’s a chance Melissa could have used it and impregnated herself years later.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Charlene snarls. “He was a teenager with his whole life ahead of him. Why would he do that?”
She sets off to find a rational explanation while Phillip grasps at straws, consulting psychics and leaving no possibility off the table. “I might not believe that this is Ronnie’s baby,” he says to Melissa,” but I believe that you believe it and I believe that Ronnie would have too. If that makes me an uncle, so be it.”
That search is the bedrock for a story packed with secrets and intrigue. Adapted from John Searles’s 2004 novel, “Strange But True” is a bit of a nesting doll of mysteries. Everyone has a backstory and a different relationship with the intrigue that forms the plot and the action toggles between past and present. That means there’s a lot to wade through in the film’s tight ninety-minute running time but director Rowan Athale manages it. He weaves psychological drama, a hint of paranormal, suspense and even some gothic horror into the story.
In the end the pregnancy is a McGuffin, simply a device to put all these elements into motion, but the result is a tightly wound thriller that leads to a gripping and satisfying conclusion.
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” copy cat “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent,” the family drama “What They Had” and the operatic documentary “Maria by Callas.”
Richard has a look at Melissa McCarthy’s dramatic turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and Gerard Butler’s action-adventure “Hunter Killer” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto.”
Tough and tender, “What They Had” is a story of Alzheimer’s and dysfunction but never dips into the easy sentimentality of many other family dramas.
Writer-director Elizabeth Chomko begins the story with Ruth (Blythe Danner), in a dementia daze, dressed in a nightgown, getting out of bed and walking off into a blizzard. The disappearance is short-lived but serious enough for Ruth’s daughter Bridget (Hilary Swank) and granddaughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga) to fly to Chicago from California to come to her side.
Son Nick (Michael Shannon) thinks it is time to put Ruth in a home where she can be looked after but Burt (Robert Forster), her husband of decades, wants her to stay home where he can look after her. Caught between Nick and Burt, Bridget believes her mother should be put in a memory care facility called Reminisce Neighbourhood but is torn in the best way to make it happen.
The synopsis does “What They Had” no favours. It sounds like a downer, an earnest movie of the week style story of bickering siblings up against a stubborn patriarch. But it is more than that. There is pain, anger and heartbreak but there is also humour. Shannon’s outbursts, born of frustration and a certain amount of realism, are often amusing and always hit exactly the right notes.
There are strong performances across the board—Swank, Forster and Farmiga all feel completely authentic—but the film’s beating heart is Danner, who plays Ruth as though she’s wearing a shroud of sadness at her fleeting memory.
“What They Said” occasionally feels cluttered, as though the focus is spread to widely over all the characters, but its unflinching eye for detail is a strength not a minus.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” wannabe “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent” and the Alzheimer’s dramedy “What They Had.”