Toronto 2019: The Rest of Us

The Rest of Us. Courtesy of TIFF.

When a single mom invites her ex-husband’s wife and daughter to live with her, a rather interesting family dynamic begins to form in The Rest of Us.

Aisling Chin-Yee makes her feature directorial debut with a story about a complex relationship.  When Cami’s (Heather Graham) ex-husband, Craig, tragically passes away, she invites Rachel (Jodi Balfour) and her young daughter, Talulah (Abigail Pniowsky) to move into her house.  If it must be said, Rachel is much younger than Cami.  Cami already has her teenage daughter Aster (Sophie Nélisse) living at home with her.  Those two alone have enough tension with their own relationship.  Aster is a first-year student in college but already considering dropping out.  This definitely doesn’t make the situation any easier.  Bring Rachel and Talulah into the equation and well, things become more dramatic than an episode of Full House.

Given everything that’s going on, Cami handles the situation so well for being ten years past divorce.  Cami has a successful career as the author of children’s books.  The money allowed Cami to not only buy her dream home but to renovate it as well.  No, really, the house is beautiful.  She doesn’t have to take in her husband’s second wife but does so anyway.  This is mostly because Craig left Rachel and Talulah behind with a mountain of debts. With the threat of eviction hanging over their heads, Cami invites them to live in the pool house.  This may not be exactly out of the kindness of her heart but the alternative is watching the two go homeless.

All in all, everyone has their own way of coming to terms.  Talulah is young enough that I’m not entirely sure that she knows what’s going on.  It’s as if their scared of telling her the truth.  Meanwhile, everything comes to a climax at Talulah’s birthday party with both mothers fighting.  It’s certainly the most intense portion of the film.

Meanwhile, Alanna Francis’s script for The Rest of Us tackles the grief angle by blending both comedy and drama.  It’s fascinating to see how these four characters choose to grieve over a loss.  In the case of one, she’s avoiding the reality as much as possible.  Musically speaking, there’s oftentimes a sense of quiet in this film that allows for these characters to breathe.  But at the same time, the film is a tad bit on the short side.  Could it benefit from a few more minutes to flesh out the story?  Possibly.  At the same time, I came off feeling satisfied by what I saw.

The Rest of Us certainly brings about another sense of what it means to be a modern family.

DIRECTOR:  Aisling Chin-Yee
SCREENWRITER:  Alanna Francis
CAST:  Heather Graham, Sophie Nélisse, Jodi Balfour, and Abigail Pniowsky

The Rest of Us holds its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.