Festival Review: Krisha (2015)


Filmed at home with friends and family, Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha is a Cassavetes-style portrait of recovery and addiction. And much more than a home video.

Family Feud

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize, Trey Edward Schults’ Krisha is very much a family affair. He’s not the first to turn the camera on himself – following Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation or Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell. But choosing fiction over documentary and turning the camera on his family – filming in his own home, casting his friends and family, including his aunt Krisha Fairchild in the title role – there aren’t many families who could pull off such an accomplishment. Taking place over one Thanksgiving, it’s the story of a woman in her sixties returning to the bosom of her family after years in the wilderness. Krisha has spent the last few years finding peace and getting her life back together, and is now ready to face up to her mistakes and make amends. Or so she thinks. Despite its grander, more operatic style, the comparisons with John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under The Influence are clear. But with Trey Edward Shults even casting himself as abandoned son Trey, Krisha begins to lose its critical distance. With an awkward conversation about how talented a filmmaker he is, the mostly snappy dialogue veers towards self-indulgence. And after a slowly building first half, where a fragile, pill-guzzling woman does frantic battle with the noisy tensions of a family Thanksgiving, Krisha plummets like a falling turkey into screeching histrionics in its final two scenes. Nevertheless, with a brilliant performance from Krisha Fairchild, and dazzling flashes of style, there’s no doubt Trey Edward Shults is one to watch.

Krisha is now showing at the London Film Festival

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