The Parting Glass


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Parting Glass
"The acting is precise in its natural flow"

Rookie filmmakers don't hit the jack first throw. Critics like to call them promising and then give a summary on where they screwed up.

Not this time.

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Denis O'Hare is an actor. Ditto Stephen Moyer. They worked on the hit vampire series True Blood, with Anna Paquin, who married Essex born Moyer. All three are involved in The Parting Glass.

O'Hare's script can only be compared to Chekhov and Moyer's direction is so assured and focused it is hard to believe this is his first feature.

The plot sounds like the second exit off Family Boulevard. You have been on this trip a hundred times - reunion, dysfunction, blah blah - or so you think.

O'Hare is genius in the way he constructs a simple premise and invests it with a sense of mystery. Three siblings (O'Hare, Cynthia Nixon, Melissa Leo), middle aged, still running half full, travel to Kansas, or somewhere out of their comfort zone, to sort out the belongings of their younger sister (Paquin) who died. Their irascible father (Ed Asner) who complains about everything and still believes his way is the right way comes too, in his car. Also, the widower (Rhys Ifans), the outsider who doesn't fit, scruffy, confused and maybe responsible, follows in his pickup.

Why did she die? They say it was an overdose. They say it was accidental. Was the marriage gutted? Did he smother her with his indifference? Who is he, this lanky unshaved other? Is it grief? Or was he broken from the beginning? You glimpse her in flashbacks, a vibrant, positive presence. How could she change?

And yet the film is not about her. It's about blood is thicker, etc, memory that binds, the long road from childhood to next week, the ease at which they interact like waves breaking over sand

The acting is precise in its natural flow. Flawless is a word banded with perfection and those complimentary adjectives that make you squirm when you're not in the mood. Of course, offered a script as sharp as this any actor would shine. Perhaps, but unlikely. This team has a unity that cuts through the false wall. There is nothing here but truth and affection.

Why did she die? It's not about her. But it is. It's all about her. That's why they are on the road. Fighting and laughing and losing their way.

It's all about connection. Or lack of it. And not knowing.

Reviewed on: 24 Jun 2018
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A family delve into memories as they try to piece together a portrait of the woman they have lost.

Director: Stephen Moyer

Writer: Denis O'Hare

Starring: Denis O'Hare, Cynthia Nixon, Melissa Leo, Rhys Ifans, Edward Asner, Anna Paquin, Paul Gross, Olunike Adeliyi, Kevin Vidal, Juan Carlos Velis

Year: 2018

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2018

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