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Film Review: Here Awhile (2020)

Here Awhile (2020) - source: Signature Pictures

Director: Tim True
Writers: Csaba Mera, Tim True
Stars: Anna Camp, Steven Strait, Joe Lo Truglio

Synopsis: Terminally ill Anna returns to Oregon to reconnect with her estranged brother while simultaneously making the heart-wrenching choice to end her life putting to use the Death with Dignity Act.

There are solid performances across the board with this film, with the focus of the film mainly resting on lead Anna Camp. After being one of the big surprises from the Pitch Perfect cast, it is nice to see her change tone and go for something more dramatic and powerful. This is a role that could easily be overdone, and yet Camp saves the drama for the real heartbreaking moments, creating that gut-punch when necessary and not overdoing it. The performance is effective and helps ground the film in some sort of reality.

This is an independent film that is made extremely well and uses its budget to the full extent. Whilst most of the film takes place in one location, it actually feels organic as this is not a story that needs much action or travelling to tell the narrative effectively. This is a story that is told mainly through the use of dialogue and relationships to drive the tough narrative forward, and this is done effectively because of the script and the performances. When the story does leave this main location and go outside, these shots are so beautifully captured and have a real purpose to them, adding to the quality of the filmmaking for an Indie film.

As you can possibly tell from the synopsis of this film, this is not a simple light-hearted family film. This is one that deals with the subject of terminal illness and the idea of being in so much pain that you simply want to end it all. Firstly, I appreciate that the film highlighted this with a younger character in Anna who, at first glance, appears to be of good health until the real side effects are highlighted. This is usually a storyline that is tackled in terms of the elderly or those who are physically unable to move, so it is so impactful to see someone like Anna go through this process. I also appreciate that the film did not glamourise the idea of the Death by Dignity Act, instead merely informing the audience of what it is and showing what it can mean to someone who truly feels like they have fought their final battle in a real and emotional way.

For a film that clocks in at just 85 minutes long, I do feel like the editing in certain parts was quite rough. This is particularly at the start of the film, where the story has to explain the characters and their relationship. It tries to do this through the use of flashbacks, tying Anna to her brother and her parents, giving her a narrative of the strong sister who now needs her younger brother in this tough time. However, I found that the flashbacks were not effective and felt quite forced, breaking up this otherwise strong story and not being able to set things up organically. It isn’t until the second half of the film when things start to move quickly and the movie has real impact

I am a huge fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine so I was excited to see what Joe Lo Truglio would bring to this film. He is terrific in this role and gives an incredible performance, however I do question his casting in the film. There has been some debate recently about whether autistic people should be cast to play roles that are about autistic people, and this is another situation where a non-autistic person has taken on the role. I do think the subject matter is handled well and the performance by Lo Truglio is well done, but it is another film that brings up this conversation about the need for proper representation on screen.

This was a film that I had not even heard of until I saw it on a list of films releasing this month. With a strong cast like this, I wanted to give it a shot and see if I could go and support another independent film. Whilst it does take time to get going into the story, the emotional pay-off at the end is worth the journey that the film goes through. If you are looking for something quick to stick on and to also support independent filmmaking, this may just be the film for you at this time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Here Awhile is available to watch now on Amazon Prime.

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