Sometimes a film’s weakness turns out to be a strength. At first confusing and sometimes hard to figure out what is going on and who is who, “The Grief of Others” explores the loss of a baby, who really never had life, on all family members. Was it a death or a medical procedure? It’s a confusing time. Should there be a funeral or should everyone just move on? Does the mother make all the decisions? What about the siblings? The husband? What’s the playbook for this kind of loss?
Patrick Wang, genius playwright, director and thinker, orchestrates a screenplay exposing each character’s response and point of view. The casting is marvelous, especially for the pudgy, bullied son, played to perfection by Jeremy Shinder, who is at once lovable comic relief and resilient sufferer and survivor.
A very interesting twist is the insertion of diorama art, brought to surprising artistic life with moving parts.
There are so many trains of thought, stories, perspectives, camera moves, lighting experiments and character stories that I wonder where Wang is going. What is his purpose?
And that’s what all Patrick Wang’s films have in common. They interact with the viewer alternately like puzzle pieces and arcing social explorations.
There is a lot happening in “The Grief of Others.” Wang’s signature talent, depicting ordinary life, facilitates viewer identity. He juxtaposes this familiarity to the out-of-the-ordinary, leaving the viewer thinking in over-time.
Grief is a natural part of living and Wang carefully and respectfully moves his story around that reality. We see the daughter attempt to throw something in the river, but she falls in herself. We see the brother cruelly bullied. And then we see the dioramas, relics from a father who has passed away.
Like the ebb and flow of the river, when we lose one of us we are brought together.
“The Grief of Others” is now playing in Los Angeles and New York.
Writer/Director: Patrick Wang
Starring: Trevor St. John, Wendy Moniz, Rachel Dratch, Mike Faist, Sonya Harum, Oona Laurence, Jeremy Shinder.
Production Company: Vanishing Angle
Producers: Jim Cummings, Erich Lochner, Matt Miller, Patrick Wang, Benjamin Wiessner
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