At the virtual SXSW Film Festival 2021 there are quite a few films made in quarantine and , a road trip comedy about going to save your grandma from a nursing home was somehow just what I needed. Now this may sound like a pretty irreverent premise but honestly, the way it’s executed has both a lot of heart and unstoppable comedy. Recovery had its World Premiere at SXSW this week. The comedy is directed by Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek and is written by Everton and Whitney Call. Plus both Everton and Call are in the film’s leading roles as sisters Blake and Jamie respectively.
Recovery starts at a party in the before times, you know, when we could be around people. Then the women wake up and the pandemic has begun. They take precautions, adjusting their daily life and locking down effectively. Then, they open a letter that lets them know that their grandma’s nursing home has “one or more” infected seniors. When they realize the closes relative, their sister Erin, is on a cruise, refusing to wear a mask and acting like the pandemic isn’t real, they decide to embark on a cross-country road trip to save rescue their Nana.
The bulk of the film is just Blake and Jamie in a car making jokes about life, answering phone calls from Jamie’s student, reading texts from Blake’s crush who is a total “fuckboi,” and trying to navigate the trip without exposing themselves to other people. This means the bulk of the film is focused on the conversations between the sisters and the physical comedy of you know, needing to put tiny snack bags on your hands to avoid touching a gas pump when you’re all out of gloves.
In fact, Recovery is just about Blake and Jamie being authentically funny together. Their chemistry is flawless and is driven by small throwaway conversations like what happens when Jamie starts her period in the middle of the drive. Additionally, somehow the fact that the bulk of the other actors in the film are just disembodied voices or acting on a small smartphone screen just makes the entire film more comedic. Perhaps it’s because this detachment allows us to focus almost exclusively on Blake and Jamie’s faces as they react to the absurdity they’re hearing.
The comedy in Recovery pretty much lands every time and the way the film introduces “twists” to the narrative to pull out just enough emotions that aren’t joyous to allow the audience to feel something grounded. It would have been easy for the film to lean all the way into irreverent humor about the pandemic but instead, it creates comedy based on real concerns. Like horror, comedy taps into empathy in order to make you feel something – and in that aspect, Recovery succeeds.
I’m sure that the emotional resonance and the jokes that naturally evolve in the sisters’ conversation is due to Everton and Call leading the creation of the film and also acting it out. There is an authenticity that Recovery achieves that pays off.
In the end, Recovery is a hilarious film that could have only happened now, and that’s honestly what makes it special.
Recovery screened at the virtual SXSW Film Festival 2020.
I’m sure that the emotional resonance and the jokes that naturally evolve in the sisters’ conversation is due to Everton and Call leading the creation of the film and also acting it out. There is an authenticity that Recovery achieves that pays off. In the end, Recovery is a hilarious film that could have only happened now, and that’s honestly what makes it special.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.