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Where Is Kyra? rests on Michelle Pfeiffer's magnetically raw performance -- and lives up to it with a trenchant, hard-hitting story.
All Critics (52)
| Top Critics (18)
| Fresh (42)
| Rotten (10)
"Where is Kyra?" is a small story - there's much about its main character that we'll never know - and a terribly sad one. But it's a remarkable showcase for Pfeiffer, who'll break your heart in every scene.
Pfeiffer is good - she's always good, and raw, and effective - but watching her here is like seeing her under glass from a block away.
This woman may be lost to the world, but in Dosunmu's quietly shattering vision, she is also unexpectedly, triumphantly found.
Gosh, but it's good to have Michelle Pfeiffer back.
Picoult's screenplay is frustratingly slight, never evolving beyond...one note.
The script, by Darci Picoult, does little to illuminate thoughts, plans, and lives; the banal dialogue is delivered at a slow and pause-riddled pace, as if to infuse it with meaning and emotion that it doesn't contain.
Dosunmu seems self-satisfied in securing the gloomy spirits, never excelling in fighting lethargy.
A compelling, nuanced character study of an unemployed woman who once lived a comfortable life and now finds herself teetering dangerously close to the poverty line.
As a star vehicle and a warning of the fragile economic uncertainty of a majority of people, Where Is Kyra works well.
every frame is a tableau come to sumptuous life. And in Pfeiffer's face he's found the perfect vessel. Whole scenes play just on her face even when other actors are present in the scene. It's intimate yet unsettling because of the melancholic story.
A very brutal takedown of socioeconomic inequality and ageism, and how capitalist systems of power force otherwise upright citizens to take risks they otherwise wouldn't have to.
Undeniably stirring and a welcome to return - if not quite a full return to form - for Pfeiffer.
The ending is so depressingly inevitable, but that's the point. Pfeiffer is just so, so good here.
PENSION OF DISBELIEF - My Review of WHERE IS KYRA? (3 Stars)
Michelle Pfeiffer has had a long, stellar career, known as much for her beauty as for her incredible talent. Rarely, however, have filmmakers tapped into her nervous energy, so it's a treat to see her on the edge in WHERE IS KYRA?, whose filmmakers, director Andrew Dosunmu and writer Darci Picoult collaborated on their last feature, MOTHER OF GEORGE, in 2013.
Pfeiffer plays Kyra, laid off and out of work for two years, divorced and living with her dying mother Ruth, a vivid, brave performance by Suzanne Shepherd. When the inevitable happens and the bills start piling up, Kyra, who has as much luck finding a job as Charlize Theron did in MONSTER, resorts to dressing up like her late mother in order to cash her pension checks, which still come due to a clerical error. In a bar one day, she meets Doug (Keifer Sutherland), a struggling cab driver who develops a hesitant sexual/dating relationship with Kyra. A witness to her ever-increasing desperation, Doug serves as the voice of reason in a situation ever so slowly spiraling out of control.
This is one dark movie...literally. Cinematographer Bradford Young (ARRIVAL, SELMA) clearly knows how to feel the characters and deliver artful images, but sometimes it's just so damn hard to make out who is who in this movie. Yes, it's completely in keeping with the subject matter, but turn on a lamp, light a candle, or open a drape sometime!
The film goes to some really dark places and treats Kyra's sequences in disguise as if they were from a horror movie. Philip Miller's cacophonous score soars in these moments with searing horns and intense percussion, and the shots of Kyra hobbling through the streets using a can feel oblique and a little scary. As a study in feeling an economic despair, this film shines. It also helps that Pfeiffer gives a raw, naked, intense performance. Sutherland, dialing back his usual hyper-intensity, projects a true warmth I haven't seen from him in a long time.
Unfortunately, the film suffers from some credibility issues. I couldn't help but thinking that while Kyra would have had a better chance of pulling off her stunt if the story had been set in 1985, our modern day technologies would hamper most of her actions fairly swiftly. Perhaps this explains the aged look of everything, from the mother's "old lady" apartment to the use of land lines and answering machines.
It's best to think of the movie as a fine character study and just go with the plot contrivances. As the noose tightens around our protagonist, things get a little silly. I kept thinking of Michael Caine in DRESSED TO KILL. A friend of mine even commented that Brian De Palma would have had a field day goosing up the hoariness of this story and turning it into his masterful, split-screen pulp. Obviously, that isn't the film Dosunmu wanted to make, sticking instead to his "woman on the verge" tone.
It's not a fun film to watch, and it's so slow, the main title card doesn't pop up until about 25 minutes into its running time. Tonally, it reminded me a little of BARFLY, where Faye Dunaway and Mickey Rourke drunkenly ambled their way through a series of adventures. Marry that with PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK and you have this oddly haunting, worthy but extremely flawed film, most notable for giving Michelle Pfeiffer something to savor.
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