'Family Squares' tackles the pandemic, zoom and human nature

“I just want to say, I’m so glad Mom didn’t die of Covid,” says Bobby Worth (Henry Winkler) in “Family Squares,” a film told via FaceTim...


“I just want to say, I’m so glad Mom didn’t die of Covid,” says Bobby Worth (Henry Winkler) in “Family Squares,” a film told via FaceTime, Zoom and phone calls immediately before and after death of Worth family matriarch Mabel (June Squibb).

That a dying loved one has escaped the virus may be small consolation for those grieving, but it is precisely this plot point that allows screenwriter and director Stephanie Laing to unravel. gently mocking our common pandemic situation. Her film is a lighthearted and touching look at the feuds, resentments and secrets that can surface when someone dies.

The film emphasizes the idea that it’s never too late to tell the truth or mend tattered ties. Mabel, in videos released after her death, urges her descendants to heal their broken relationships.

The star-studded cast is presented in a hectic grid: faces include Mabel’s son, Bobby; daughter, Diane (Margo Martindale); dying partner, Judith (Ann Dowd); and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

After less than a minute of virtual conversation, a grandson, Robert (Billy Magnussen), a whistleblower in hiding in Russia, suggests that they raise their hands when they want to talk; the others respond with a mocking middle finger.

The inherent awkwardness of Zoom interactions leads to other funny moments, like Cassie’s (Elsie Fisher) decision to sit with Mabel’s body “until the free session is over.” When she is still there a little later, her father asks in disbelief, “How hasn’t he expired yet?” (She upgraded to a premium account, using her credit card.)

Laing’s writing is sharp, drawing characters alive and exposing family tensions through acerbic dialogue. For example, a granddaughter, Dorsey (Judy Greer), in a dig at her sister, Katie (Casey Wilson), comments, “Your kitchen is really beautiful. How much did Grandma spend on this renovation? »

Shot during quarantine in 2020, “Family Squares” uses the tools of pandemic-era communication to deliver a film with the intimacy of a home movie, while exploring the chaos and limits of technology.

Family squares
Rated R for language. Duration: 1h39. In theaters and available for rental or purchase on Amazon, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'Family Squares' tackles the pandemic, zoom and human nature
'Family Squares' tackles the pandemic, zoom and human nature
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