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Malady

When caring for a loved one in their final days, that person can easily become the entire world to their caregiver. This is exactly what happened to Holly (Roxy Bugler). who's just lost her mother after a long and painful illness. Now Holly is at loose ends, and among her mother's last words were a wish for Holly to find someone she could be happy with, the same way her parents were happy together.

Finding such happiness isn't so easy, of course, but that's what mother told her to do, so that's what Holly does. She goes out to a bar where she spies Matthew (Kemal Yildirim) also drinking alone, likes the look of him, and picks him up. Their one-night stand turns into a lost weekend, then a string of encounters at Matthew's home, where they eat together by candlelight and become increasingly dependent on each other. Though Holly does blossom under the attention, there seems to be a lot less happiness and a lot more desperate need in the relationship, both unwilling to go back to their lonely lives.

Her brother Paul (Gary Cross) cautions her against getting too close too quickly, but that warning comes far too late, as Holly is increasingly caught up in her new life. For his part, Matthew has been estranged from his family for some time, and he's deeply reluctant to talk about his past despite Holly's gentle urging. Families should always stay together, she insists, oblivious to Matthew's continued silence on that point.

Then the phone call comes: Matthew's mother, Lorelai (Jill Connick), is dying. If it were up to Matthew the news wouldn't change a thing, but at Holly's insistence the two travel to his family home. And certainly there's something not right about Lorelai, though it's at least as much a mental issue as a physical one. She seems obsessed with cleanliness -- certainly the house is full of sinks -- and says such strange things to Holly that the younger woman frequently has no idea how to respond. Matthew, overwhelmed and even traumatized by being home again, is little help.

I'll go with four out of five. The pacing is slow but for the most part it works, and all three leads are utterly convincing, their silences saying almost as much as the dialogue. In their own ways, they're all equally blinded by their pasts to what's happening in the present -- Holly, for example, can't fathom the idea that some families are better off apart -- and this is what leads to the final collision among the three of them, a collision that's unexpected, inevitable, and changes everything.

Image: 
Holly is having some trouble adjusting to her future mother-in-law.

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