film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Humans 2021 * * 1/2 Stars


"The Blake family bounces back that's what we do". That's good because the Blake family kinda has it rough. Everyone has lost their job (or is about to), one of the members has colitis (ugh), one is formally depressed with a trust fund on the way (five years away), and the mom is quote unquote, "eating her feelings" (ouch). The Blake clan (and the daughter's boyfriend) are chronicled in 2021's The Humans

So OK, The Humans is like an art house version of a holiday vehicle where everyone weighs up, bickers, and purges. Actors like Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, and Beanie Feldstein are well cast and they sort of look alike (that helps because their characters are well, related). They're natural on screen together and the dialogue for "Humans" is pretty much improvised and overlapping. 

So is The Humans avant garde for a slow burn Thanksgiving Day drama? You know it. And does "Humans" have a playful hint of a dwell-ed haunting? Maybe. And is the opening shot for "Humans" a doozy to end all doozies? Yep. 

The Humans takes place in a dingy Manhattan abode where lights continue to go off and pots/pans go bump bump in the night. Rookie director (Stephen Karam) fashions "Humans" as a pic where the camera is constantly peeking in or spying on these complicated, Blake household members. They are filmed chewing the fat (or turkey) in long shots, Steadicams, and wide shots. And that's even in the space of an enclosed, narrow apartment. 

Watching "Humans" is like having mediocre seats at a rock concert where you can obviously hear the music but don't get a great view of the performers. I mean I've never seen a flick shot quite like The Humans. The acting is good however and the remnants of strained, family dysfunction sneak up on you from a mawkish standpoint. I just wish the film's combo of masturbatory lens styling-s, human spectacle (natch), and purported horror came to a final fruition. "Humans" almost "being".  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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