Krisha Review
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Holiday gatherings with family can be boisterous and fun, but they can also be tense and awkward—and sometimes even downright unpleasant. And in his award-winning indie debut, Krisha, writer/director Trey Edward Shults documents all of the complexities and growing discomfort of one family’s uneasy Thanksgiving celebrations.

Krisha follows one woman’s quest to reconnect with her family during a tense holiday gathering. It’s been years since Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) has shown her face—but, for some reason, she decides to join the family for their Thanksgiving dinner. It starts out innocently enough—albeit somewhat awkwardly—as Krisha prepares the meal, surrounded by the noise and activity of any family gathering. But as questions arise and the pressure builds, Krisha’s plans for a joyful reunion with her family begin to give way to anxiety and regression.

Krisha’s story is a simple one. There’s nothing especially groundbreaking or mind-blowing about this woman’s Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s the film’s simple honesty that makes it stand out. This family gathering is the kind that we’ve all attended at one point or another. In the beginning, the day seems promising, with friendly (if somewhat hesitant) greetings for a long-lost loved one. Throughout this day-long event, there are pleasant reunions, heartwarming scenes, and even a few laughs. There’s also a scattering of brief but increasingly uncomfortable moments, as various family members attempt to get Krisha to open up—or as she tries to connect with them in ways that they’re just not prepared to handle. And, filling up the spaces in between, there’s chaos. There are barking dogs and football games and inside jokes and laughing, bickering, noisy people around every corner.

Together, Shults and Fairchild do an excellent job of showing the holiday commotion from Krisha’s point of view as the outsider. After years away, the noise and festivities and confrontations are overwhelming and unfamiliar. She barely knows her grown nieces and nephews anymore—and her son (played by Shults) wants nothing to do with her. And her growing anxiety is palpable as she repeatedly retreats to the quiet of her room to escape the chaos and catch her breath.

Krisha’s past is left a mystery—a mystery that can be almost as frustrating for viewers as it is for her family. We don’t know where she’s been for the last several years, and we don’t know why she left her family behind. Still, her experience is compelling, the performance is natural, and the emotion is genuine.

Krisha isn’t exactly an action-packed film. It’s funny and dramatic and relatable—but, admittedly, not much happens. Still, its simplicity and sincerity make it a memorable indie—and a noteworthy debut for a talented young filmmaker.

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