Recovery (United States, dir. Mallory Everton, Stephen Meek) *** out of ****
With a lot of documentaries at SxSW this year that mention the Coronavirus pandemic, less has been mentioned in the narrative feature films, either because production already started before last March in 2020 or, I am guessing, many filmmakers want to stay away from the subject as we are still living through this right now, and we go to the movies to escape from our reality, and even more so to our current one.
What’s a surprise about a new indie like RECOVERY is that it goes a step further to convince me that it’s okay to make a comedy on this topic. Filmmakers Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek clearly have an oddball sense of humour about COVID and even accurately capture the early 2020 reaction to the pandemic from spraying down everything to reacting to Tom Hanks among the first to be hit with the virus. The movie’s opening scenes get some strong humour out of characters talking about what the future holds for them and their plans for an awesome 2020.
After the initial shock settles in, RECOVERY goes on a road trip and it gets more comedic mileage as our main characters, sisters Jamie (Whitney Call) and Blake (Everton) are trying to rescue their grandmother from a hospital in the midst of a virus outbreak. What surprised me is how delightfully odd these two are on the road and of course are paranoid of the entire world around them.
Both Call and Everton have a good comedic rapport around each other, even when they go a bit over the top at times. When they are reacting to an “attack” when someone breaks social distancing, they are HILARIOUS. In the first few moments I was a little worried as we see them overreact to everything at a party, but once they decide to take on the virus and get on the road we really see their connection. Both leads are also uniquely funny in their own way, and their personalities bounce off of each other.
Aside from some strong laughs even when dealing with a current virus that feels like it has no end date, RECOVERY is also, to my surprise, such a great looking movie as well that I wish I could have seen in Austin on the big screen. Starting off with a colourful opening sequence, going bleak and over-lit when the pandemic hits but slowly going colourful when they get back out on the road. Even if it doesn’t TOTALLY stick the landing, I still had fun with RECOVERY, laughed often and its road trip journey is really wanting me to get back out there.
Recovery is now streaming on SxSW Online.
This film and many others like it will be showing at the virtual South By Southwest taking place March 16-20th. For more information and to register for the festival, point your browser to www.sxsw.com!