A family gathers to say goodbye to a patriarch in this realistic, emotional drama that shows no limit on the topic of emotion.
80-year old Henry Stone has contracted COVID and as a result, has been put on a ventilator. Sadly, the disease has become too much and Henry is on his last days of life. Due to new restrictions involving hospitals, patients, and family members, Henry’s family is not allowed to come to the hospital. When eldest son Peter, in the UK on business, is informed of his father’s condition, he is informed of the new policies and is given a video link to share with his family so they can all say their final goodbyes.
Peter rounds up the family, including ex-wife Nancy, their children Max, Jen, and Keke; matriarch Faye, family friends Jean and Jack, and Nancy’s parents. From the moment they all arrive along with their extended family, things start to get emotional. At times, they share some good moments, but soon enough, there are shades of emotions and incidents that would instantaneously tear the family apart as estranged members speak their minds amidst the situation involving Henry. However, Peter and Faye are determined to make things right so that Henry can have a proper farewell among the family.
There comes a time when a movie can be so powerful and emotional that the audience can’t help but resonate and both sympathize and empathize with the characters. Writer and director Paul Boyd has achieved exactly that with his film about a family who gather together via videoconferencing to say their final farewells to a loved one. The film has a runtime of 73 minutes, which makes it shorter than most films of this genre, but in essence, it does bring a sense of realtime as life can be unpredictable.
The ensemble cast of the film is nothing short of amazing. Danny Huston, in a far cry from his showcase as a villain actor, is great as the eldest son Peter, who is responsible for gathering the family to say goodbye to his father. From there, we are introduced to the extended family and almost right away, there are shades of denial and estrangement. This includes a conversation between Jenny O’Hara’s matriarch Faye and Lin Shaye’s Jean, who admits she is a bit hungover but is convinced that Henry is just fine with Faye trying to convince Jean that he is on his last days.
Nicole Ari Parker is great as Peter’s ex-wife Nancy. You can see that despite the divorce, the two are able to get along well. We learn that their son Max has followed in the footsteps of Nancy’s father, a local minister while middle child Jen is involved with Black Lives Matters protests and there is some emotional tension between Nancy and Parker McKenna Posey’s Keke. When we finally see Keke, it is pretty short and brings so much tension. However, this shows the realism of the situation, and it seems like the fact that Keke has gone down a non-traditional path doesn’t bode well, but it is mentioned both Henry and even Max understand her. There are also shades of various topics from the pandemic and religion as well as separate relationships, as we see Peter’s new fiancée Gwen (played by Orange is the New Black’s Elizabeth Rodriguez in a role totally 180 from the series) and Nancy with an ungrateful and somewhat selfish boyfriend in Jeremy (played by Baker Chase Powell) give their takes on the situation.
We Are Gathered Here Today is a very powerful and emotional look at a situation real-life families go through, and this is all driven by an amazing ensemble cast. This has to be one of the most realistic movies that must be seen.
WFG RATING: A+
Cinedigm presents a Mirror Films production. Director: Paul Boyd. Producers: Paul Boyd and Eric Barrett. Writer: Paul Boyd. Cinematography: Brooks P. Guyer. Editing: Clark Eddy and Ed Shiers.
Cast: Danny Huston, Nicole Ari Parker, Jenny O’Hara, Charlie Barnett, Lin Shaye, Jeremy Kent Jackson, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Rae Dawn Chong, Baker Chase Powell, Bill Smitrovich, Margaret Avery, Clifton Davis, Parker McKenna Posey, Luna Blaise, Kai Wener, Phoebe Tonkin, Javicia Leslie, DaJuan Johnson, Fatimah Tallah.