Release Date: April 14
Director: Rob Meyer
Stars: Melanie Lynskey, Nelsan Ellis, Armani Jackson, Janeane Garafalo, Christine Taylor
This story of an interracial family’s move from New York City to suburban Washington state, and its focus on how their presence is seen by their neighbors primarily as a cool novelty, has been playing the festival circuit for a year and seems like something of a remnant of the Obama era (you could make a very different movie right now). But it captures quite a lot of small truths: the culture shock for their biracial son (particularly at a very tricky moment of adolescence); how familial tension most often manifests itself in quiet, uncomfortable moments; the way bored, comfortable people tend to just end up drinking and drinking and drinking. Melanie Lynskey is perfection as the mother (nobody does “muddling through” as well as she does), while an unrecognizable Nelsan Ellis (aka “Lafayette” from True Blood) is well-matched as the father. Writer Annie J. Howell and director Rob Meyer stack up their woes without making them feel contrived, so when the breakdown comes, it’s real, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s a slender movie (81 minutes without end credits), but it has the richness of a miniseries.