Greetings again from the darkness. Writer-director Daniel Poliner delivers two movies in one. And while that may be a real value when shopping, it can be a bit counterproductive in moviemaking. We begin with the story of Christina (Victoria Cartagena, “Gotham”), a Latina senior associate on the Partner path at her law firm, despite the unrealistic expectations from her boss. Christina is stressed-out and beaten down. She’s worried about a pro bono client who can’t seem to shake her abusive boyfriend. Christina is also trying to help her mother straighten out her finances, and if all that isn’t enough, she just found out she’s pregnant … the father is another lawyer in the firm.
This first section of the film draws us in to Christina’s saga. She clearly cares about her career, while understanding that a step off the fast-moving treadmill would probably do her good. Her mother Gloria (Sol Miranda, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) is frustrated that Christina doesn’t visit her more often and the two seem to have an unsettled relationship. Once this story has us hooked, filmmaker Poliner abruptly shifts gears, and this becomes Gloria’s story two years later. She’s a career teacher-principal at an inner-city school and is nearing retirement … and it’s the week of Christina’s wedding, which means events with the soon-to-be Jewish in-laws. We quickly realize Gloria is out of place at the rehearsal dinner.
The groom’s mother is played by the always interesting Tovah Feldshuh, but even that’s not enough to keep us on track. Director Poliner makes some interesting creative choices by showing a few sequences playing out slightly differently each time. These visions seem to represent the way memories work by displaying the variances in what we recall, how we wish a moment played out, and what actually happened. It’s like the internal dialogue come to life, while mixing past and present. Both Christina and Gloria have their internal light flashing – literally, at times. Gloria’s story, though it could have been every bit as interesting as Christina’s part one, ends up a bit confusing. Supporting work comes courtesy of Ryan Woodle, Andrew Polk, and Adam LeFevre, and while a creative approach is always welcome, we viewers do hope to make sense of what we see on screen.
Opening in theaters and On Demand on January 13, 2023