James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Cole Clay // Film Critic
Director Trey Edward Shults’ revelatory first feature KRISHA is a true family affair. Filmed for $10k in his mother’s home, the kinetic drama tells the story of the titular woman (Krisha Fairchild) returning to Thanksgiving dinner after 10 years estranged due to drug and alcohol abuse.
In 2015, KRISHA won the grand jury and audience award at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by indie distributor A24.
Filmmakers have made their debut features on micro-budgets before, that’s no secret. Today, independent filmmakers are getting pushed to the outskirts of the industry with it being more difficult every year to find the key into the industry. But that key being so hard to find is exactly why Shults’ film works so well. His vision of a claustrophobic family gathering, filled with tension and awkward chit-chat comes off beautifully. He comes off as a veteran filmmaker instantly. His style has the flair of Pedro Almodovar with the unraveling of a John Cassavetes. This guy knows what he’s doing. I mean, he worked on Terrence Malick’s TREE OF LIFE.
While the feature is only 82 minutes, Shults has the members of the family carry on and have fun in a way that’s completely natural– no joke, it’s a window into the life of an everyday family. But for Krisha, it’s hard to get back in with the relatives, mainly Krisha’s sister Robyn (Robyn Fairchild), who has vouched for her making an appearance. Shults fills us in with the dynamic of the family with small talking points between Krisha and her salty, yet wise-cracking brother-in-law (Bill Wise), but most of the heavy lifting of the plot is executed in Krisha Fairchild’s performance.
Fairchild is incredible. In fact, she left Hollywood years ago after moving on from being a screen actor, but now, she’s in a role that’s completely void of any vanity, as her career is back in motion. She portrays an empathetic character that exerts human qualities of wanting to be accepted that collides with inner turmoil and trying to move forward in life. It’s a well deserved achievement for a project that hits close to anybody, but the flair of experimentation from Schults’ camera keeps the tension at a fever pitch.
KRISHA is a special gift in a spring season that has been pretty light in terms of quality, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Shults and Fairchild team up again, or appear in more “high profile” roles.
KRISHA opens in limited release.