WHERE IS KYRA?
Director: Andrew Dosunmu
Cast: Michelle Pfeiffer, Kiefer Sutherland, Suzanne Shepherd, Tony Okungbowa
Running Time: 1:38
Release Date: 4/6/18 (limited)
Capsule review by Mark Dujsik | April 5, 2018
Where Is Kyra? is less like a narrative and more like a formal experiment in testing the limits of distancing an audience from a story. One can appreciate what director Andrew Dosunmu and cinematographer Bradford Young are doing here, telling the story of a dejected woman, who has been all but rejected by society, in long shots and shadow.
Kyra (Michelle Pfeiffer) is grieving, unemployed, and surely on a path toward some tragic existence in poverty. The movie approaches the character as society sees her—almost completely out of sight and, soon, out of mind.
There are times that we literally cannot see Kyra or anyone else on screen, because her world is one of cramped but open rooms, disguises, and the oppressive shadows of minimal lighting. For a few years, she has lived with and cared her ailing mother Ruth (Suzanne Shepherd) in a New York City apartment. Kyra is divorced and lost her job in Virginia. For her, Ruth might as well be the only other person in the world.
After a lengthy prologue of sorts (It takes about 20 minutes for the title to appear), Ruth dies, leaving Kyra alone without the steady income of her mother's pension checks and a long list of bills. Every day, Kyra has been looking for and failing to obtain a job.
There's little plot of which to speak, save for the mysterious appearance of a woman who looks a lot like Ruth—dressed in her clothes, walking with the same labored gait, cashing the dead woman's checks. There's also Kyra's relationship with her neighbor Doug (Kiefer Sutherland), who dreams of becoming an independent cab driver but works at a local nursing home.
We feel the weight of this situation, mostly on an aesthetic level. Pfeiffer's performance—or, better, what we can see of it—is quite good, as Kyra's financial desperation turns her to a life of crime. The final act plays out as a low-key thriller, with an impending eviction and close calls with the cops.
Do we feel the full extent of what Dosunmu and screenwriter Darci Picoult are saying with this tale? We can't, really, because of the director's approach. Where Is Kyra? shows us how its main character lives and reflects how she feels, but the movie's intentional, clinical distance prevents us from feeling it for ourselves.
Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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