By Allison Lyzenga, My Film Habit
This year’s D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival finished as strongly as it started. Ian McCrudden directs this gritty, closing-night feature by the Lobit sisters. It’s a story about two sisters coming to terms with the life their deceased mother lived as a drug addict–and about forgiving each other for the different ways each of them chose to handle the situation while she was still alive.
Where one daughter, Eve, saw it as her duty to love her mother unconditionally, and to care for her when she would go on a bender, the other daughter, Emmie, believed that no one should get a free pass for bad behavior just because they are family. So while Eve stayed home, nursing Mom through one bad drug trip after another, and combing the streets of L.A. late at night when she would go missing, Emmie chose to put all the pain and betrayal behind her and set off to travel the globe.
But when Mom turns up dead, it brings the sisters back together to finally face their issues–both with their mother’s lifestyle, and with each other.
I like how this film doesn’t portray one sister’s approach to the problem as necessarily better than the other’s. There’s not a good sister and a bad sister. Just two women with the same amount of flaws that any normal person would have. Sure, one girl’s approach may seem unnecessarily cold and heartless, but the other’s methods only seem to be enabling a life of addiction.
Eve’s coddling made it very easy for her mother to continue living as she did. And, Emmie’s reckless anger puts the two of them in some pretty dangerous situations as they confront their mother’s old friends. She’s been so used to just yelling at her family about how selfish and weak her mother was behaving, that she doesn’t seem to realize that she can’t do the same thing with all the shady characters she meets at the seedy motel where her mother spent her last days.
And when she does, she invites a pretty violent response. These scenes are some of the most terrifying I’ve ever seen. It’s the sort of situation that every woman has nightmares about whenever she has to walk somewhere alone at night. Emmie’s outrage clouds her judgment as to what are acceptable risks to take, and what are situations when she should just keep her head down and keep walking.
But this isn’t just a story about the squalid lives of poor drug addicts. It’s about two sisters accepting this tragedy from their past, and then moving on. As they make this emotional journey together, they grow closer, and become the comfort that each had been looking for all along. So, despite all the filth and danger in this story, it is ultimately very uplifting. A great way to finish off another exceptional year of films.
Allison Lyzenga writes about films on her website My Film Habit.