Mayim Bialik’s directorial debut, As They Made Us, is a solid first feature film that draws upon her own life experiences in grief.
Bialik uses her own experiences as the basis for writing this film. It’s a film that I’m sure many will resonate with because there are no shortage of families with such experiences. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more scripts from the Blossom and The Big Bang Theory star. In watching the film, you could never tell that she is a first-time filmmaker.
Please be advised that As They Made Us is also a flashback movie. The flashbacks do not get in the way too much. However, they are important part in telling the story. I should also add that if you are not comfortable with trauma and violence, this will probably not be a film for you. That being said, it’s important to be telling these stories because no family is perfect. Even if you think they look perfect from the outside, you never know what they’re going through inside their own home.
Abigail (Dianna Agron) is a divorced mother of two. She’s at a point in her life where she’s looking to find new lover. However, the situation with her parents, Eugene (Dustin Hoffman) and Barbara (Candice Bergen), do not help matters. Nor does the fact that brother Nathan (Simon Helberg) has been estranged from the family. Abigail cannot do everything alone. She singlehandedly places it upon herself to fix all of her family’s problem and this includes bringing Nathan back into the fold. What makes it worse is that Eugene has a degenerative condition but neither of her parents are confronting reality. He’s dying but their state of denial is not helping.
As if everything isn’t enough already, Abigail is trying to land a cover story where she works while parenting two children with her ex-husband, Peter (Charlie Weber). Abigail crushes on her landscaper Jay (Justin Chu Cary), who cannot help but notice just how much Barbara is calling for help. Barbara and Eugene could hire as many people to help them as possible but they would still be calling Abigail for assistance. Anybody with parents in ill health late in life are going to relate to this film.
Abigail does manage to get Nathan to visit their father before he dies but it’s not without a catch: Barbara must not be present during the visit. Thankfully, the visit goes well and their relationship begins to improve. At the same time, Barbara is so dependent on Abigail that it’s not even funny. At times, you’ll find yourself cringing at her behavior.
It’s a Jewish film in the sense that the characters are. Abigail and her children recite the Shema before going to bed. Overall, religion is not a primary focus in as much as family relationships are.
As They Made Us is a work of catharsis for actress/filmmaker Mayim Bialik. Bialik works through the grief in seeing how families are able to bond and come together when you might least expect it. Everyone has their own way of coping with grief and this is Bialik’s way of sharing her story, even if what happens to this family might not 100% be her story.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Mayim Bialik
CAST: Dianna Agron and Simon Helberg, with Candice Bergen, Dustin Hoffman, Justin Chu Cary, Charlie Weber, and Julian Gant
Quiver Distribution will release As They Made Us in theaters and Digital/VOD on April 8, 2022. Grade: 3.5/5
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