THE REST OF US – Directed by Aisling Chin-Yee – Written by Alanna Francis – SPOILERS
It all begins with the death of a cat. The cat is named Boots and after sustaining injuries of an unspecified nature he is put down by the vet. Cami (Heather Graham) and Aster (Sophie Nélisse) decide to phone Craig (Aster’s dad and Cami’s ex) because he was so fond of the cat. They learn from Rachel (Jodi Balfour) — Craig’s second wife for whom he left Cami some years previously — that Craig had a heart attack and drowned in the tub. Soon Cami and Aster are attending a wake for Aster’s departed dad, and the unfortunate cat is never mentioned again.
The thing about Craig is that, despite the fact that everybody should actively dislike the guy, he seems universally liked (sometimes to the point of obsession) by all that knew him. (Well, we only meet his two daughters, Talulah and Aster, and his two wives, Cami and Rachel, and we only get to view these characters in the afterglow of Craig’s death.) There are some peripheral people floating around, but none of them are ultimately significant.
Director Aisling Chin-Yee told Danielle Solzman of Solzy At The Movies: “The relationship with this man, Craig, the husband/ex-husband/father—he’s a catalyst for this new family to be created. He’s nothing more than that, essentially. He’s not the reason behind the story. The story is these women coming together and being able to reconcile the way that they feel about themselves, about him, and about the other woman or the other sister.” One can certainly view the story that way, but none of it would have taken place without the intervention of the mysterious Craig, about whom we learn very little. One wonders what screenwriter Alanna Francis might have to say on the matter.
One of the most telling lines in the film comes from Aster who, after learning of the manner of her father’s death, says: “I didn’t even know he took baths.” (When Cami and Craig’s marriage ended, Aster was certainly old enough to have noticed.)
Food is quite effectively used to illustrate the characters. Rachel expresses her guilt by eating dry shredded wheat. Cami makes lasagna to use as an overture to Rachel. Either Aster or Cami (the two characters are quite easy to confuse because they are so similar and were likely portrayed that way on purpose) uses icing to split a four-letter word between two breakfast tarts. Talulah orders the most incongruous combination of ice cream flavours she can imagine: a cone with scoops of bubblegum, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.
This is certainly a lovely story of two families joining together against all odds to overcome adversity, and all the characters are charming and likeable, but in the end these four leave little to pique the imagination. Their lives seem nice and settled and ordinary. One ends up thinking instead about who this Craig person was, and just how his demise (both physical and financial) managed to have such positive results. One wonders: was it a result of natural evolution, or of intelligent design?