What movies about abuse rarely talk about is grieving the loss of who you could've been sans this reality. And Raymond and Ray pokes a finger at this before it runs in the opposite direction!
This funeral dramedy template isn't unexplored in the least, especially one that explores complicated, abusive, and dysfunctional family dynamics and the impact they leave behind. But we haven't come across a ton of these that scratch anything beyond the surface because while this narrative looks easy, basing a story on the after-effects of abuse isn't everyone's cup of tea! Written and directed by Rodrigo García, Raymond and Ray is just another example of this!
Cast - Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke play half-brothers, Raymond and Ray, respectively. Maribel Verdú plays Lucia, Raymond and Ray's father's ex-lover. Sophie Okonedo plays their father’s former nurse, Kiera.
Storyline - This film begins with Raymond showing up at his half-brother, Ray's doorstep to tell him that their father is no more. Victims of abuse at the hands of their father, both boys haven't had the easiest life. They've been surrounded by chaos growing up and they don't quite realize that they're still being defined by it. Raymond has been divorced twice in the past and he has a child who is actually his father's; Ray had a drug problem for years and he also lost the only person who made him happy, his wife. After making his children's life miserable, their father had one last wish. He wanted his boys to be present at his funeral and dig his grave by hand! Forced to go on this road trip, Raymond and Ray meet a bunch of people who were a part of their father's life during his last couple of years and who made them wonder just how much they really knew their father!
Watch the trailer here!
What I liked - Even though this dramedy didn't intend to, it made a parallel between relationships IRL and the one these two half-brothers share onscreen by showing us how the two of them are stuck in a loop. They lash out at each other while discussing just how messed up their father was instead of creating a safe space for each others' feelings and healing together. Sounds familiar, no? Being unable to dig any further is so profound and I'm not quite sure if this film realized that! What was interesting to watch was the further these brothers dug, the more skeletons they'd come across like the number of children their old man had fathered, the women he'd slept with, and how gentle he was capable of being towards the end of his life.
What I didn't quite like - Maribel Verdú and Sophie Okonedo exist solely to console the two leads and help them heal. Plot twists in Raymond and Ray are introduced with no repercussions whatsoever which leave you wondering how random this film is. In spite of being a rather long movie, this movie doesn't do justice to any of the themes like many of the others from this genre!