REVIEW: Krisha

25 03 2016

KrishaAs much as I would like to say that I watch all films as they are meant to be seen, in a theatrical venue with an audience, that is not always the case. I saw upwards of 200 new releases in 2015 alone, which means that not all of them got such a favorable viewing experience. Some are squeezed in across several days; others, endured at the end of a five-film day at a festival.

I gave Trey Edward Shults’ “Krisha” perhaps the ultimate short shrift: an iPad viewing on a Monday night (Tuesday morning) at 12 A.M. by necessity before a digital screener link expired. I wanted to go to sleep after a long weekend but needed to watch the film, so I curled up in bed with my iPad and hit play. Yet, oddly enough, this quasi-dreamlike state proved quite the perfect state in which to experience this surreal yet all too real drama.

The film, just 80 minutes in duration, follows the struggles of the hot mess Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) as she fumbles her way through a Thanksgiving at the home of some estranged relatives – including her son. What unfolds is far from the standard kitchen-sink family melodrama. “Krisha” goes back and forth between two opposite sensations. Shults can make the viewer feel like an active presence in the room, observing the proceedings and recognizing their painful dialogues as ripped from real life. But he can also provide the perspective of an outsider watching Krisha’s meltdown through a funhouse mirror.

The constantly shifting pendulum induces slight whiplash, though it also brings about a masterful disorientation. Using the same technology most filmmakers employ to capture the world exactly as it is, Shults produces a hallucinatory and fantastical effect that frequently eludes creators working with eight-figure effects budgets. He turns the limitations of his ultra low-budget indie into the very essence of its strength, either by creatively maximizing his minimal resources or finding ingenious workarounds.

And I fought off my tiredness to marvel at the wonder that is “Krisha,” I found myself frequently wondering whether I had just watched something in Shults’ film or just dreamed it up in my sleep. I often rewound the film by a few minutes to make sure. Most times, the crazier, riskier and downright unbelievable things were on the screen – not in my head. B+3stars

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