Sunday, 20 November 2016

REVIEW - OTHER PEOPLE (CHRIS KELLY)


Admitted: the cancer comedy has been done to death - it's going to take a genuinely fresh and authentic perspective on it to make yet another variation on this trite theme worth enduring. If that's what Chris Kelly brings to Other People, he never transcends that inevitable triteness, meaning that all the handsome, insightful work supplied by himself and his cast alike must be resigned to relative ineffectuality. And yet Other People is indeed worth enduring - aside from when it winningly courts actual offence, it's an inoffensive, tolerable account of an experience most would find intolerable, and thus a pleasantly piquant portrait. That freshness is largely absent, but the authenticity is palpable in Kelly's unabashed presentation of the defining moments in a young man's life in the year approaching his mother's death. Kelly confronts the innate tragedy with provocative concessions to comedy, though somewhat undercuts the crucial dramatic tenor that is intended to simmer beneath as a result; Other People is eventually on surer footing when it succumbs to that tenor, allowing the humour to arise more organically, as a wry adjunct rather than a quirky counterpoint. And his leading cast is proficient in permitting such a process, with fine, intuitive work from leads Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon. Even at its most predictably predictable, those two keep Other People from doing itself to its own death, and alone make it worth enduring, right to the very end.