The Hollars Review - Heartwarming, A Touching, Winning, Ensemble Performance

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The Hollars, from Sony Picture Classics, presents the story of a middle class American family, with all the rites of passage that brings them to one moment that tests the family's strength, love and the lessons nurtured.

Directed by John Krasinski, The Hollars stars Margo Martindale, Richard Perkins, John Krasinski, Sharlto Copley, Anna Kendrick, Randall Park, Charlie Day, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and was written by Jim Strouse.

The Hollars begins in the home of Sally and Don Hollar, played by Emmy winners Margo Martindale and Richard Jenkins, who are beginning the day with their usual routine, which is somewhat disrupted as their first born, Ron, played by Sharlto Copley, has returned to live at home.

From off screen, a thud is heard and Don rushes to the bathroom to find Sally on the floor. They get her to the hospital where she is awake and in good spirits with the usual selflessness and calm she has used to manage the household for nearly forty years.

With the first born, Ron, hovering about, calling the second son, John, played by Director John Krasinski, was left to Don. John, a budding cartoonist, has left the small Midwestern town for the big city. A day away by car or a couple of hours, if need be, by plane he could be home for an emergency looking at the cell, today was not one of the days he wanted to talk about "the future."

John is living with Rebecca, played by Anna Kendrick, who is actually about to deliver their child. The idea of explaining again why he still hasn't married her and a looming deadline was a bit much. Rebecca suddenly shows up at his midtown office, nine months pregnant, trying to explain.

Once he understands it's not her and it is his mother who is sick, he is off. Soon the three Hollar men are speaking with the doctor, trying to step out of the roles they maintained throughout their entire life and all be adults.

At a loss, the two are trying to understand why she let it go for so long. Confronting the unknown, not understanding what is happening, and of course as the matriarch who genuinely loves her life, her husband and sons, even as each of them are stumbling as they try to make their way, finding out meant confronting the truth of the illness: terminal or not.

Of course, it is as she expected and completely unexpected to everyone else. The brain tumor diagnosis was a punch in the gut to her family. With that the sons suddenly have to be grown up and face realities that aren't supposed to happen yet.

Sally isn't the only one who has been ignoring trouble and warning signs, the family business, which Don has run throughout his entire adult life is deeply struggling. Circumstances brought John to the one place he did not expect to run into anyone who knew him and when confronted he came clean.

Ron who recently divorced his wife, Gwen, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead recently began dating Reverend Dan, played by Josh Groban, and is truly having a hard time adjusting to life without his family. As he processes the possibilities of his mom's diagnosis his behavior toward his former wife and two daughters continues to be questionable and potentially criminal.

I truly enjoyed The Hollars. Without going too far back it reminded me of a season in my own life when life took an unexpected turn.

The Hollars is very much an ensemble performance. The talent is impressive. Fine-tuned performances they bring an "A" game to this small art house film, and are able to translate the exactness of emotions as they deal with the unthinkable.

The unexpected sickness of the family matriarch has her boys and husband unsure of how life will continue without the glue, the rock, that held them together through life, the ups, downs, pitfalls and mountaintops.

Margo Martindale, who is one of the most impressive talents working today, takes ahold of her role as Sally and presents a flawless narrative as she prepares for the unknown. Her performance arch, which hits a peak as she the doctors come to take her to surgery is shocking, moving, and very sad. It is the only time she reveals her vulnerability.

That moment delivers a packed punch and as her co-star and director John Krasinski said during the press conference, reacting to her performance "we didn't know what to do" at that moment which would be the natural reaction. Her ability to hit the high moments is so strong.

She brought down the house with that scene that took "all of one take," according to Krasinski and as a reactionary actor her delivery silenced them. I wouldn't be surprised to see this performance nominated during awards season. 

Each of the performers have a monologue or single spotlight moment where the show rests on their capable skill and talent. The Hollars is very much a family movie with great acting so much so that one can almost see oneself in the players.

John Krasinski, as director, praised the cast for their consummate professionalism. He lauded every co-star as both director, and co-star, noting that Anna Kendrick was shooting another film simultaneously and took it upon herself to drive from that location to Jackson, Mississippi, where The Hollars filmed.

The Hollars is heartwarming. A touching, tearjerker, that effortlessly brings one of life's challenging moments to the big screen and infuses it with humor. With a lifetime to mourn, remembering the kindnesses, the love, the laughter which they do and fortunately the new beginnings who decides to punctuate an ending with a beginning.

The Hollars has a double pack Kleenex alert attached to it. So be prepared. It is affecting, sad, tender, moving and impressive.

The Hollars opens August 26, 2016. Check local listings. See it! 

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