Ensemble cast movies are always a difficult feat to pull off because it requires everyone to give 110% and if one part of the chain is weak, the rest of the production and final product suffers from it. More so when said final product is a tense and at times hilarious family drama that takes place almost solely over zoom and during the current pandemic we are plagued with. Thankfully, Stephanie Laing gives us Family Squares, a movie she co-writes and directs. She manages to beautifully tell the hardship of saying goodbye to a loved one over Zoom. And how in the end, family is the most important thing anyone can have.
In Family Squares, Mabel (June Squibb) is dying, and her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids gather on zoom to say goodbye to their grandmother. However, after her passing Alex (Sam Richardson), who is Mabel’s attorney, plays a video. He shows the video to Dorsey (Judy Greer), Cassie (Elsie Fisher), Chad (Scott MacArthur), Robert (Billy Magnussen), Diane (Margo Martindale). Other family members watching the video include Bret (Timothy Simons), Katie (Casey Wilson), and Bobby (Henry Winkler).
In the video, she drops some bombshells about secrets that she has hidden from the family, including that one of the grandchildren is not actually a sibling. The only person who knows all the secrets and what bombshells Mabel will drop is her wife, Judith (Ann Dowd). Will the family come clean and will this clear their consciouses and bring them closer together? Or will they continue to be the dysfunctional family they present themselves to be and disrespect their mother’s final wishes?
Family Squares is one of the very few COVID dramas that doesn’t scream COVID into the empty void and pulls it off incredibly well. This could’ve been easily set without COVID. It could’ve been entirely taking place in a funeral parlour and the film would’ve worked almost just as well. However, there’s the Zoom element and the family’s almost disdain for one another. Those elements brought to live some truly excellent comedic moments. And those moments have layers of human emotion and love that moves audiences. The entire cast were absolutely incredible delivering impeccable performances. They truly evoked powerful emotional responses that will linger with the audience long after the credits roll.
There is something really special about Stephanie Laing’s Family Squares as it is a daunting task to create a movie almost solely on Zoom. To have everyone create the chemistry that is present in this feature in a remote setting. And to have a message that is boundless to time all while using the pandemic as a back drop. Family Squares is a special film that is for anyone who doesn’t mind having a film tug at their heart strings. It’s also perfect for some of us who couldn’t say goodbye to a loved one.