Raymond and Ray
Raymond and Ray follows the story of half-brothers Raymond (Ewan McGregor) and Ray (Ethan Hawke) as they journey to their estranged and abusive father’s funeral, following through with his last wish for their presence at his service. Along the way, they end up entangled in different tasks – meeting lawyers, digging up graves and collecting old mementos. They meet new people and get to know a side of their father they never saw for themselves when he was alive. The film covers a multitude of themes surrounding death – the unity and peace it brings to the people affected, found and lost family, and moving onwards from traumas of the past – but the core of Raymond and Ray is the nuance in father and son relationships: second chances, and whether the changes for the better can invalidate old wounds and horrible past experiences.
The script is very predictable, aided by lots of foreshadowing to guide the trajectory of the story. Its humour is quiet and the satire is careful, treading lightly on serious topics such as racism, sexism and the use of slurs, and tying it right back to the multiple facets of human nature. Contrast is heavy to highlight Raymond and Ray’s perception of their father against the experiences of others. This in turn emphasises the question of whether being a good person and father to someone else can trump his abusive tendencies towards Raymond and Ray. The final nail in the coffin, however, is the feature’s use of irony, twisting events and relationships to an uncomfortable degree, and leaving several plot lines unresolved. This is confusing, as the last act promotes closure yet it doesn’t afford the characters themselves the same conclusion – specifically Ray.
Visually, the picture is drab. Low saturation and vibrance create a sombre atmosphere throughout. While perfectly in tune with the storyline’s tone, it hinders even the slightest bit of action or show of emotion. The pacing is horrendously slow despite the less than two-hour runtime, and this dragging combination makes for a very boring watch. There are some interesting dynamics with the focus on symmetry to help create separation and tension between the brothers, making the final plot twist and their last scene together feel somewhat rewarding. But besides that, the production is overall lacklustre, its meaning lost behind monotonous execution.
Raymond and Ray is released on Apple TV+ on 21st October 2022.
Watch the trailer for Raymond and Ray here: