This afternoon my aunt and I escaped the summer heat and went to AMC to see People Like Us. Despite seeing a lot of movies, I had never seen a trailer for this one. My aunt wanted to see it and she tends to like lighthearted romantic comedies. After the movie, she admitted that she picked it thinking that it was a comedy. Wrong. This movie is 100% hardcore drama, the kind that leave you feeling a bit messed up when you walk out of the theater. My favorite kind of movie.
People Like Us ranked rotten, but I think that it might be due to bad timing or mismarketing. The movie has a lot of star power ( Michelle Pfeiffer, Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wild, Phillip Baker Hall...) and great writing, but it is essentially a smaller/art house type of film. It's not at all a typical summer film. It's not a light, fun movie. There are some fantastic performances that will be forgotten when the Oscars roll around.
Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks play siblings who did not know of each other until a series of events after the death of their father. This happened in my family and is a sensitive topic. After their parents passed, my mom and aunt discovered that they had a half sister from their father's first marriage. By the time they found out about their sister, they only got to see her once before she died of cancer. Michelle Pfeiffer's character acted very similar to how my grandmother dealt with the situation. This movie dealing with deep rooted family secrets, anger and resentment hit very close to home. I thought that the writing deftly handled sensitive subjects in an honest, open way.
I've loved Chris Pine since seeing him on stage at the Mark Taper in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He's not just good looking, but a really skilled actor. I'm not sure that I've ever seen Banks in a drama, but she was perfectly cast. Banks and Pine had an electric chemistry and I bought every moment of it. Pfeiffer was also pitch perfect.
One other note about the film was a cool style choice to play with sound. The use of sound in this movie is similar to how it is used in a horror film. Loud, jarring moments that startle and jab. The characters are all so angry and the sound drives in the tension. It was a very notable style choice that worked well.
It doesn't need to necessarily be seen on the big screen, but if you love dysfunctional family dramas, this film is a must see!