The devastation of a lost loved one is a difficult thing to process, and every person grieves in their own way. In her feature film directorial debut, The Rest of Us, Aisling Chin-Yee delves into the story of the loss of a man, and the family that he leaves behind. However, just like real life, the complicated families that people form when children are created and marriages dissolve due to infidelity make for an interesting tale.
The family that was first left behind by the deceased are a mother, Cami (Heather Graham), and the typical angsty teenager, Aster (Sophie Nélisse). Cami is wildly successful, writing children’s books, but that doesn’t help her hang on to her wandering husband or relate to her daughter navigating her first year of college. Craig’s (Sean Gallagher) sudden death pales in comparison to the pain mother and daughter have both been feeling since he abandoned them to start a new family with a much younger wife years ago.
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His second family, which began as an affair, involves young, naïve Rachel (Jodi Balfour) and her prepubescent daughter, Talulah (Abigail Pniowsky). Their world has been shaken with the expiring of Craig, but with his death comes to light some hard facts to face. Blissfully happy in her life raising Talulah, Rachel now finds that she has nowhere to live and no means to support herself.
The story intertwines the two women and their daughters when the seemingly perfect and level headed Cami offers to allow Rachel and Talulah to stay on her property until the insurance money pays out, since it is revealed that Craig was not current on their finances and the bank was swiftly moving in to salvage all that was owed.
As is the complicated relationships of mothers and daughters, viewers see Cami relating to Talulah more than her own daughter, cooking for her and encouraging her love of the outdoors and nature. On the other side of things, Rachel and Aster forge a bond in attempting to suddenly be forced to navigate the real world after being sheltered – Rachel by her husband, and Aster by her mother.
The children each deal with their father’s death in different ways that make it feel real and relatable to anyone who has lost someone that is close – or in Aster’s situation, was close. She rage texts him, something she dreaded doing while he was alive, but now, in death she finds herself finally being able to tell him things she couldn’t while he was alive. The texts find their way to Rachel who still keeps her dead husband’s phone on and is able to fully understand the devastation she caused by falling for a man who already had a family who needed and missed him tremendously.
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Little Talulah struggles with just remaining in reality that her father is now gone forever and what that means. The resilience of children in situations such as these allow one to see that sometimes it’s okay to pretend as long as one knows one is pretending. Her days are still filled with play and wanting all the normal things children want, like a themed birthday party or a new toy, not realising how permanent and final death really is.
Each female has their own struggles throughout the film and despite the awful history that separated them while Craig lived, it is ultimately also what keeps them united after his death. They are all flawed, they are all wonderful, and they are all in pain. And eventually, they all are healed as well. The acting is superb and true to life of both mothers, for those that have endured attitude ridden teenagers, and also the younger ones that need help with understanding reality. All four women deliver performances that move viewers and drive the story with emotion and ultimately forgiveness.
The saying is grief never ends but is the price of love. This film captures both the grief of death for all four, allows them to each heal their hearts, and then finally find peace despite their unfortunate circumstance.
The Rest Of Us is available on Digital from 23rd March.