It’s family weekend. Freaking out? No worries! Here’s a compilation of family-centered movies to laugh or cry or cringe at if you need a little escapism in the upcoming days.
The Farewell (2019)
Let’s just start off with a brutal one, shall we? Rip the band-aid off. Drink the Kool-aid. Take the plunge. Et cetera.
The Farewell (dir. Lulu Wang) is the heart-wrenching story of a family who hides their matriarch’s terminal diagnosis from her to keep her from dwelling on the inevitable and wasting what will be an otherwise lovely family reunion.
The wedding the family throws to make Nai Nai’s final days memorable is particularly challenging for the young Billi (Awkwafina), who struggles to reconcile the American view of honesty as ultimately moral with her Chinese family’s mercy-oriented choice to protect Nai Nai from the truth.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “this felt like a gut punch and a warm hug at the same time” – @rudimh
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
In New York City, Royal Tenenbaum and his wife separate, leaving their two sons and adopted daughter stuck between a noncommittal father and an exacting (although loving) mother.
Many years later, we reunite with Royal, who’s gone broke and fakes a Cancer diagnosis to reenter his former family’s lives, in search of a place to stay and have some compassion.
The Royal Tenenbaums (dir. Wes Anderson) is easily one of my top five movies because of its forgiveness of flawed characters, exceptional soundtrack and charming style. This is a quintessential flawed family film, in equal parts optimistic and heartbreaking, endearing and lonely. Really exceptional storytelling, despite its occasionally unclear narrative purpose.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “The recurring rhythm of despair-honesty-reconciliation for almost every character is so sad, beautiful, and true. Beyond that, just about every other line gets a laugh. Brilliant.” – @larsenonfilm
Shiva Baby (2020)
An incredibly chaotic and stressful film, but impossible to turn away from because of its frenetic pacing coupled with the witty and sardonic writing.
Shiva Baby (dir. Emma Seligman) takes place over the course of a shiva, where Danielle (Rachel Senott) is forced to interact with her sugar daddy, ex-girlfriend and, of course, all her extended relatives.
You may spend the entire film in shock – if you think it can’t get more stressful, it definitely can. Fabulous and insane — chaotic bisexual 20-somethings eat your heart out.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “make no mistake, this is a horror movie” – @filmgraphy
Daughters of problematic moms, this is one of the movies for you. A classic, brutal horror film, Carrie (dir. Brian de Palma) is bloody and girl-coded at the same time.
Like Lady Bird, but vengeful. This movie is not for the faint of heart– instead, it may be for the horror-loving girls familiar with a dysfunctional mother-daughter dynamic.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “this is my joker” – @sapphicquinn
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook (dir. David O. Russell) follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), fresh out of a mental hospital, as he returns to his family home to reintegrate into the world. As he tries to win back his ex-wife (who has a restraining order against him), he grapples with the end of their marriage, his chaotic family dynamic and his confusing feelings for his friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
A chaotic film that’s full of heart, Silver Linings Playbook shines thanks to Cooper and Lawrence’s stunning performances, and its brilliantly colorful, cinematic and sentimental final minutes. The dancing is great, too.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “excelsior” – @abipickford
Everything, Everywhere All At Once (2022)
This film took social media by storm in 2022, and for good reason. The fast-paced, quirky, heartfelt and powerful Everything Everywhere All At Once (dir. Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan) tells the story of a Chinese-American immigrant woman, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) who’s swept up in the middle of an interdimensional plot to save the world.
Forced to experience her life as it has played out in different realities, Evelyn struggles with her relationship with her own life and family as she attempts to prevent the destruction of the universe.
My favorite Letterboxd review: “easily one of the top 5 movies about taxes” – @kurstboy