Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon might not be anyone’s first casting choices as a gay comedy writer and his dying mom, respectively; but boy are they a moving and marvelous duo in Chris Kelly’s alternately hilarious and heartbreaking melodrama Other People (B+). Plemons, masterfully playing a sad sack hybrid of Matt Damon and Philip Seymour Hoffman, anchors the film as a young man having a very bad year, unlucky in love and work and summoned home from NYC to Sacramento to care for his ailing mom. Molly Shannon is a force of nature as an idiosyncratic and intuitive mother fighting an aggressive bout with cancer. The film’s structure is basically a year in the life, but it colors outside the lines in splendid and droll ways. Like Terms of Endearment and other classic tearjerkers, the ache is earned. Folks will appreciate Bradley Whitford as the stoic father and June Squibb and Paul Dooley as eccentric grandparents. A smart script and surprising characters make this an offbeat indie worth watching.
Note: This movie opened Sundance Film Festival and closed Out on Film. Look for it to cascade into awards season as a dark horse candidate. It’s very much in the Little Miss Sunshine genre.