WHAT THEY HAD
Hilary Swank stars as a woman who must reckon with her complicated past when she returns home to care for her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, poignantly played by Blythe Danner.
Intimate, heartrending, and surprisingly humorous, writer-director Elizabeth Chomko’s debut feature is a perceptive study of a family doing their best to cope with tragic circumstances. Suffering from dementia, matriarch Ruth (Blythe Danner) has wandered into a Chicago blizzard in the middle of the night, prompting her grown daughter Bridget (Hilary Swank) to put her busy life in LA on hold and return home. With sulky teenage daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga) in tow, Bridget reunites with dad Burt (Robert Forster) and brother Nicky (Michael Shannon), and her presence soon intensifies long-standing family tensions. Against Nicky’s protestations, Burt stubbornly refuses to consider placing Ruth in a care facility. And the siblings have suppressed bad blood of their own, with Nicky resenting his sister for leaving him alone to take care of their aging parents. At the center of this contentiousness is Ruth, whose lapses of memory are punctuated by moments of striking clarity. Despite the frequently challenging subject matter, Chomko and her gifted ensemble cast endow this deeply affecting film with real charm and moments of unexpected levity, perfectly capturing the subtle, surprising dynamics of family.
CAST: Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster
In Competition: First Feature Award
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