TIFF Review: 'The Rest of Us' Is a Compelling Examination of Unlikely Friendships Directed by Aisling Chin-Yee

Starring Heather Graham, Jodi Balfour, Sophie Nélisse, Abigail Pniowsky
TIFF Review: 'The Rest of Us' Is a Compelling Examination of Unlikely Friendships Directed by Aisling Chin-Yee
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How are you supposed to feel when mourning the death of a lousy person? That's the complex emotional situation that The Rest of Us explores, as Cami (Heather Graham) learns that her ex-husband Craig has suddenly passed away.
 
Craig was an adulterer who kept his financial struggles a secret, meaning that his new wife Rachel (Jodi Balfour) and young daughter Tallulah (Abigail Pniowsky) suddenly find themselves evicted and without any assets. They resort to sleeping in their car until Cami invites them to crash at her house — a decision that doesn't go over particularly well with her teenage daughter Aster (Sophie Nélisse).
 
All of the women are going through their own private struggles: Cami is a children's book illustrator who is way behind on a deadline; Aster is dropping out of college and dating a guy on the sly; Rachel is overwhelmed by the mess Craig left behind; and Tallulah is having trouble wrapping her head around the idea that her dad is gone forever.
 
The film is decidedly modest in scope. There are only a small handful of characters, most of the scenes take place at home or in a car, and the whole thing is over in just 80 minutes. Scenes often flash back and forth between the different women, with plot development occurring in quick cuts rather than overwrought exposition. Director Aisling Chin-Yee demands the audiences full attention to fully grasp the characters' emotional struggles, and fill in some of the pieces that happen off-screen.
 
There's lots of tension, but it's compelling to watch the women bond under these strange circumstances. It's particularly interesting to see how each woman bonds with the other's daughter — leading to some jealousy, but also a new appreciation for one another.
 
The Rest of Us might have benefited from a slightly longer runtime; there are some major revelations towards the ends, so it feels a bit like it ends just as it's getting going. But as a small-scale examination of a unique form of grief, it packs a lot of emotional complexity into a small package.

(levelFILM)