_Jack_’s review published on Letterboxd:
Uh, I believe TES really had his heart in the right place making this film. Unfortunately his examination of familial trauma is largely reduced to nothing more than a highlight reel of tropes and rote cliches that barely saves itself with a second half change that injects a bit of genuine emotion.
And I fucking hated the first half of this film, truly. No time to understand anything about these characters or their lives and relationships other than what's explicitly onscreen, expressed through overwrought needle drops and needlessly showy direction. its also just bathed in a horrid color grade and surrounded by a terrible sound mix.
By the time we get to the much more lowkey second half, the film has pretty much completely lost me. However, I will concede that I largely enjoyed what Shults did with Emily's part, but it really just begs the question - why was this not just from Emily's perspective the whole time? As decent as the second half may be it follows an atrocious introduction and ends up feeling incomplete - not because the loose ends aren't tied up, but because it feels like we were watching two films edited together to be one. We really don't know anything about the people in this movie and we are with them for over two hours. The performances were fucking fantastic, especially Sterling K Brown (really the only one to work within the cypher of a character he is playing, the overbearing, "succeed at all costs" dad, and elevate it to something else) and Lucas Hedges. Unfortunately every character is just an archetype and none have the time to truly flesh out their characters.
Listen, I see this means a lot to a lot of people, friends of mine included, but it just felt very misguided from the very first moment.