Learning to control emotional peaks is part of growing up, but even more so part of having kids. Every intense moment requires a pause, and a breath, and a calm response. The cost of that control is equally intense. Clayne Crawford (Spectral), along with some nice (if occasionally over-pumped) sound design, brings that tension to life as part of the main suspense in this, basically, domestic drama. The bi-play and screwed up struggles between Crawford and his on-screen wife Sepideh Moafi, is painful. It also feels uncomfortably honest and as illogical as any decisions attempted by couples in crisis trying to find a way to fix things.
No one in the family tests Crawford and Moafi more than Avery Pizzuto as the oldest child and daughter of the couple. Pizzuto is a bit histrionic, but what teenager isn’t? And yet, she’s the voice of reason in an unexpected way.
And then there’s Chris Coy (The Front Runner) as the burr in the side, the fly in the ointment, the self-assured interloper in the situation. Ultimately, he felt the least credible and most forced of the characters in the story. But his presence is necessary as fuel.
Writer/director Robert Machoian has built a family we can recognize, if not entirely sympathize with. It is a tale of good intentions running up against reality. It plays into the concept of everyone living lives of quiet desperation…bringing us constantly to the abyss and making us wonder if a character is going to jump into it.
Anyone who has ever been married and/or has had kids will recognize some, if not all, of the driving forces. Even if the plot may leave you behind at times, the root emotions and impulses feel familiar. And the story itself pulls you along through both tension and steady-cam shots that never let you blink.