I am somewhat of a cinephile. I dreamed of being a filmmaker and writing scripts for movies when I was young. I took as many film classes as I could get my butt in while I was in college. It quickly became more of a hobby for me than a career choice. I spent hours analyzing film and then over analyzing film. Until it became not so fun anymore. Once I started to look at film from a director/critics perspective, it became more of a chore than anything to watch a movie.
I went through a period of time where I loathed watching movies and couldn’t even bring myself to finish one. My ex wasn’t fond of movies and there were few that could keep her attention, so we didn’t watch a lot of movies. That influenced me too and I just stopped watching movies all together. Recently, I have found that spark again. This weekend I watched a movie called, Other People.
Other People was directed by Chris Kelly, who if you don’t know is AWESOME. He has written for SNL for quite a while and is their supervising writer right now. He also writes and helps produce Broad City, which is one of my favorite shows of all time. Other People is his first feature film to direct and write. It stars Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon. Again, AMAZING. Jesse Plemons is best known for his roles on Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, and currently Fargo. He’s super lovable and is usually designated as the comic relief/funny,slightly unattractive friend. In this film, he is the star and it feels good to see him fill that role.
Molly Shannon is also fantastic. I’ve loved her since her days of Mary Catherine Gallagher in Superstar and SNL. She is just as lovely and hilarious in this movie as she always has been. She plays a mother who has cancer and after fighting it for a while, she decides to stop getting chemo treatment. She will break your heart and make you smile cry in this film. Her son (Plemons), moves back home and leaves his life as a struggling TV show writer in New York City behind. He moves home to take care of her and we see him unravel as she unravels.
This movie is a comedy and a drama and a feel good and a sad tribute to strength in incredibly trying times. As someone who rarely cries at movies (I have no soul), I sobbed at this one. I also laughed so hard I almost choked on the Pringles I was eating.
One aspect of this movie that I appreciated and enjoyed was queer representation and the portrayal of familial struggle. Plemons’ character is an openly gay man and every one who is reading this and identifies as queer in any sense of the word can attest to how the film industry almost always butchers our portrayal. Most films take all of the stereotypes placed on queer people and turn them up a notch and that is how we are portrayed. This film gets it right. The writer and director, Chris Kelly, identifies as gay as well, so that is possibly why the portrayal is so accurate.
Plemons’ character has two younger sisters and they all have a strained relationship with their father. They are all trying to keep it together for their mother who is withering away day to day, but they are also all trying to figure out their lives and how this all fits into their story. The characters are so raw and real, they are so relatable. I’ve never been directly impacted by cancer, but this movie makes you feel what they are feeling. It is incredible.
One part of the movie that is so relatable is that Plemons’ character discusses his struggles with his mother’s illness with one of his close friends in the film. This friend is also a gay male and lost his mother to cancer when they were in high school. Plemons’ character confesses to his friend that he has always viewed cancer as, “something that happens to other people.” This is exactly how most people think of it. Almost like there is a barrier between what we think could happen and reality. Most of us have been impacted by cancer in some way, shape, or form, but we neglect to believe it can happen to us or someone we love until it happens. It is always something that happens to other people. Until it happens to us.
Other People is currently on Netflix and you should check it out! It is more than just a sad movie about cancer. Check it out peeeeeeeps!