Krisha opens with its eponymous lead (Krisha Fairchild, director Trey Edward Shults’ real-life aunt) giving us her best Kubrick stare, clueing the audience into what to expect from the next hour and a half. Bagging this year’s SXSW grand jury prize, Shults’ debut is definitely one of the most powerful films on offer this year.
The plot follows sixty-something Krisha returning to her rowdy estranged family (including her son, played by Shults) for Thanksgiving, hoping to start afresh. She soon finds that she’s not as welcome as she thought and things begin to unravel. The reason for her estrangement is made clear gradually and without clunky exposition; everything is revealed through Krisha’s actions.
Fairchild’s performance dominates and it’s a testament to her talent that she’s able to shoulder such a demanding, character-driven piece. Raw and compelling, she very quickly draws the viewer into Krisha’s world, helped by the masterful use of sound and choice of score. Her anxiety and isolation are conveyed brilliantly. The family (many of whom played by Shults’ real life friends and relatives) chat and fool around, whilst Krisha remains on the sidelines, perpetually looking on. Although it’s obvious early on that all will not end well, Fairchild’s performance is such that it’s impossible not to root for her.
Though some of the camerawork feels unnecessary (spinning transitions in particular), Shults has created a realistic portrait, informed by his own experiences, of the devastation addiction can bring to a family and has hopefully made a name for himself with this stunning debut.
Krisha does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Krisha here: