What They Had

First time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko’s intergenerational drama about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s features a wonderful ensemble cast and a judicious trickle of humor.

When Bridget’s (Hilary Swank) mother wanders out of the house on a cold and snowy night, she gets a call from her worried family and hops on a plane to help. Her mother Ruth (Blythe Danner) has fallen deeper into Alzheimer’s disease. And while her brother (Michael Shannon) wants to find an elder care facility where she can flourish, her father (Robert Forster) is adamant about wanting to keep Ruth at home. Basing her screenplay on lived experiences, Chomko perfectly captures the rhythm of this group — the roles each has come to play, the conversations carried on in shorthand, the resentments and loyalties that define who each is to one another. The intimacy and honesty of the family rapport, the razor sharp dialogue and its deeply grounded humor keep the film and its compassionate story utterly engaging.

“There’s raw power in Chomko’s writing, but so much scrupulousness and craft that you feel safe when the time comes to weep.” – David Edelstein, Vulture

(USA / 2018 / Written and directed by Elizabeth Chomko)
R / 101 mins.