Film Review: The Hollars (2016)




In his directorial debut, John Krasinski has delivered a poignant film about a family dealing with illness, aging, separation, and regret. The story revolves around Sally (Martindale), the family matriarch, being diagnosed with a catastrophic illness. Her youngest son, John (Krasinski) is compelled to return home from New York, where he had escaped the small town to pursue his dream of writing a graphic novel. He arrives to find his mother in the hospital, his father (Jenkins) an emotional wreck, and his brother (Copley) newly divorced and living back at home.

Each character seems to be on the precipice of major changes and decisions in their lives. Sally is facing the prospect of brain surgery and begins to reflect on her life. She confides in her youngest son about her regrets, causing him much anguish and sending him on a journey of reflection about his own life. His girlfriend is pregnant and they have yet to marry. He is quite anxious about the prospect of supporting a family and whether or not he should abandon his dream.

His father is on the brink of bankruptcy and losing the business he has worked his whole life to build. At the same time, he is going through the fear that comes with finding your spouse very ill and the very real possibility that she may die.

Krasinski read the script 6 years ago, but the funding for this film never worked out. He loved the script and purchased it himself, deciding to try his hand at directing. As for the cast he put together, he hit it out of the park. Martindale is one of the best actors working today. She is mesmerizing and lovable in any role, even the not so lovable ones (Justified). Interestingly enough, one of Krasinski's first jobs was opposite Martindale in a JC Penney commercial.

What can you say about Richard Jenkins? He is fantastic as the emotional father as he is in any role. He looks like "every man" so much that he doesn't even look like he's acting. He inhabits his roles as if he were living them. Superb.

Smaller roles, such as the ones acted by Kendrick, Copley, and Day were a great complement to this ensemble. The film is at turns sweet, funny, and painful as we watch this family deal with so much change. I highly recommend settling in with a nice glass of wine and a fire to watch this gem of a film.

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