SXSW 2021: Film Review – Recovery (2021)

It has been particularly hard not to talk about the pandemic and coronavirus during this last year in most of our reviews given not just the severity of the situation but how it has – and continues to – puncture our everyday lives. For most, it has been something like a prison sentence, confined to our homes, unable to see friends, family, and colleagues and to do those things we love, for others, it has been so much more heartbreaking. And as we come to what we hope is the approaching light at the end of the tunnel, we have taken stock and begun to reflect on how everything has changed and how we have changed.

We mention this again as, for the film world, it has been a tough year but for some, it has provided something of a surreal yet tangible way to tell not just stories about the pandemic and how we navigated the weirdness and the horrors but about our lives therein. We’ve had a few films so far: some have been good (Host), some have been bad (Songbird), and now we have Recovery, a laugh-out-loud comedy about a dark, dark situation. It may be a tough sell, but it couldn’t have come at a better time, bringing us a sunnier, rosier, hopeful film that encompasses the ocean of emotions we have all been facing.

Weeks before the madness began, sisters Blake (Mallory Everton) and Jamie (Whitney Call) are knee-deep in celebrating Jamie’s big 3-0 with a fun Disneyland adventure on the horizon and even talking about buying stocks in the thriving hotel and airline industries. Whoops. Soon enough, they are stuck at home together, frightened of the dangers surrounding them and heading for full-on lockdown mode despite their resentment over their forced imprisonment. As days pass, word from the nursing home where Nana lives is a hot zone for the virus, and decide to travel across the country to bring her home.

It’s been so tough for everyone this mad year of 2020 and extending into 2021, heartbreaking for some, and while Recovery may seem like just a run-of-the-mill laugh riot, it runs deeper than that. Call and Everton‘s smart, sharp, and at times profound screenplay beautifully balances the absurdity of current climates with the all-pervasive sense of sadness and empathy: we have all lost, some more than others, and the film is both celebration and tribute, never losing sight of the bigger picture. That said, when it’s funny it is raucously (bar a few bum notes) fuelled by the lead duo’s impeccable timing, brutal honesty, and sublime chemistry that lifts it even further, alongside Everton and Stephen Meek‘s cracking, pitch-perfect direction.

As with most COVID-based films, the strange novelty is wearing thin and everyone wants to forget this horrid period as soon they can, but if there’s a “going out with a bang” to be had, we’re glad it’s Recovery, a stark reminder of the beauty, love, and fun of the world around us even in the bleakest of times. Absolutely delightful.

★★★★1/2

Drama | USA, 2021 | NC | SXSW 2021 | Dir.Mallory Everton, Stephen Meek | Whitney Call, Mallory Everton,