REVIEW: ‘Raymond And Ray’ A Great Concept, but Ultimately Rather Dull

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Raymond And Ray - But Why Tho

Formidable partnerships in film can make or break a project that leaves a lasting impression. So upon hearing that Raymond And Ray, an Apple TV+ movie exclusive, would pair the enigmatic talents of Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke as brothers I was first in line to check this project out. Following the news that their heartless father has passed away, the two brothers reunite to say their final goodbyes and double check the old man is actually dead and buried. But Raymond (McGregor) and Ray (Hawke) will learn more about their father from those around them than they ever realized.

Written and directed by Rodrigo García, the story peels back the layers of Raymond and Ray’s deeply bitter relationship to their father to the extent it’s become a formative part of who they are as adults. After spending years apart, the brothers begrudgingly come together to bury the very root of their problems and finally shed the weight they’ve carried around for decades.

I expected more from this film, especially when you have two mega talents like Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor at your disposal capable of some big emotional performances. It’s not to say their performances are terrible, because they undoubtedly carry the film. Rather, the script they’re working with and the choice of narrative direction just aren’t quite as compelling as they should be.

The largest problem is that while the focus is on the grief, or more likely, the relief, these two middle-aged men are processing, they’re also reconnecting after years apart. So there is an awkward space that exists between them as they re-learn to become familiar while they also process their own grief throughout the journey. With this somber tone, the pace of the film moves somewhat excruciatingly. The offset to this is the gallows humor that’s supposed to be present, creating a dark dramedy, but the balance is off. There are certainly moments of morbid humor that land but they’re captured really poorly, so you don’t get the full hit of humor.

There are also just a few lingering subplots set up for both main characters that fail to add any value. Instead, they muddy the brothers’ translations of their own grief and the understanding that the man they knew wasn’t the man they knew after all. This was by far the most interesting thread of the entire film. It was the experience of Raymond and Ray talking with the people closest to their father in the latter stages of his life and celebrating his presence. Yet, the dialogue fails to really scratch the surface or find the words to contextualize the son’s frustrations at missed opportunities or their anger at their own mistreatment.

Raymond And Ray had a great foundation, with an interesting concept at the core, but it fails to realize the full potential of what it could have been. While McGregor and Hawke hold this film up, they were also heavily underutilized given their range and ability. It’s an interesting watch, but it at times also feels painfully slow.

Raymond And Ray will be available exclusively on Apple TV+ Friday, October 21st, 2022.


Raymond And Ray
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Raymond And Ray had a great foundation, with an interesting concept at the core, but it fails to realize the full potential of what it could have been. While McGregor and Hawke hold this film up, they were also heavily underutilized given their range and ability. It’s an interesting watch, but it at times also feels painfully slow.

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