“Raymond and Ray” mixes pitch black comedy and pathos with a tender touch

Review:

Families are fun things – a fact that’s really showcased in Apple’s latest feature film like Apple’s half brothers and titular characters Raymond and Ray Binding via a hole in the bottom.

From that first formative connection to those awkward adult interactions, each and every family is unique. These are people we love and support, regardless of outside influences or personal bias. Not only is it a lifelong commitment that can influence larger decisions, but it often represents an unconscious commitment enforced by an emotional need.

This is the space author that director Rodrigo García inhabits with his latest film. A tale of two men who come together at their father’s funeral not only to reconnect emotionally, but potentially to experience some personal revelations as they both begin to process decades of emotional baggage left in the hands of Ewan McGregor proves both intriguing and captivating, and Ethan Hawke.

As Raymond and Ray, both actors share car trips, funeral homes and digging, while their father Harris (Tom Bower) gets the last laugh. Over the course of its conservative run, the duo exhibits conflicting personalities, brought together by obligation and who bond out of hatred for an absent father – a man who constantly thrives on life as a womanizer, belittling his offspring and living a life by rules that exclude parental responsibilities.

Whether they’re exchanging bitter memories on the car ride or stepping up a notch at his grave, McGregor and Hawke are never less than magnetic onscreen as they share awkward moments, only to reconnect during revelations both pleasant and otherwise from them come woodwork.

Raymond and Ray is a film of quiet moments, internalized emotions and pent-up anger in which the central conceit is both darkly comedic and oddly cathartic. Luckily, García provides more than enough substance for both actors to tackle, imbuing this two-handed sword with equally powerful dramatic arcs.

Image via Apple
Image via Apple

Hawke’s Ray is a recovering heroin addict, unconventional jazz musician, and emotionally distant Lothario. Women were never a promise to him, yet he rarely let anyone close enough for fear of rejection. These may be tried and tested notes in the gamut of dramatic stereotypes, but the star brings a freshness to the contradictory character that resonates throughout.

McGregor’s Raymond, on the other hand, is the epitome of risk aversion, having found no solace in the confines of numerous marriages. Lacking charisma and obsessed with precision, he keeps his feelings under wraps for the sake of others. Consistently belittled by her father when she was young, his resentment may seem more superficial, but it runs just as deep.

Raymond and Ray delves into the complexities of family relationships, drawing universal truths between its more comedic elements. Full of sardonic asides and pitch-black humor, García also manages to convey a lightness that later turns into pathos.

Of the supporting players, only Maribel Verdú really stands out, playing her father’s latest physical conquest, Lucia; his full-time carer, part-time lover, and only emotional connection for both brothers back to a father they barely knew. Her contributions are mostly low key, offering both a glimpse into the recently deceased and a companion to aid in the grieving process.

Raymond and Ray also has a knack for illustrating the more absurd factors that make up the average family. These include the appearance of long-lost relatives, reactions to last will and testament, and the inevitable reflection on mortality. That the film still finds comedy in the futility of belief when confronted with the finality of death is one way in which it remains optimistic.

As the film moves across a grave from funeral home to family home, audiences are swept up in two understated performances by these vaguely related siblings. Two men finding time for each other in a whirlwind of mixed feelings, which ultimately constitutes their father’s final moment of emotional blackmail.

Once the charges are allayed and the final acts of rebellion are demanded of his sons, both men experience their own unique epiphanies. When chalkboards are collectively wiped clean and opportunities for a fresh start arise, viewers will find themselves embracing their optimism and making sure of it Raymond and Ray remains uplifting in its final minutes.

https://wegotthiscovered.com/reviews/review-raymond-and-ray-mixes-gallows-humor-with-graveside-gravitas-to-create-something-unique/ “Raymond and Ray” mixes pitch black comedy and pathos with a tender touch

Lindsay Lowe

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