Cami Hayes (Heather Graham), a successful children’s book author going through writer’s block, prepares for her ex-husband’s funeral. That involves their daughter Aster (Sophie Nelisse). She has her own glib way of mourning the man who left them high and dry. That also involves going to their old home in Toronto. And having to be around that home’s residents, the Wife no. 2, Rachel (Jodi Balfour), and the latter’s daughter Talulah (Abigail Pniowski).
Cami and Aster are on different wavelengths when it comes to their ex/father’s new family. And those feelings become more complex when Rachel discovers that her finances are in shambles. They have no choice but to temporarily stay in Cami’s North Bay mansion. Alliances shift and secrets come out, and they contend with the idea that they are each other’s family now. A family as ordinary as ones in real life.
These are some interesting characters, especially Talulah. She is somehow, at first, oblivious to her father’s death and her new financial reality. The same goes for Rachel, who must pinch every penny to feed Talulah while waiting for her husband’s insurance money. She cannot financially support Talulah, believing she lacks employable skills. Most housewives and mothers, understandably, can relate to how Rachel undersells herself.
Rachel imposes, slightly, on husband’s first wife by choosing to live in Aster’s camper. But these ‘cramped’ conditions make for equally interesting combinations of conversations and observations each character would have on the other. Some great scenes include ones with Cami and Talulah, the latter asking about her father. The daughter scenes are good in invoking the spirit of the man that connects them.
Cami’s kindness, understandably, might strain credulity for some audiences, especially when Rachel finds out the former’s motivations. Either way, The Rest of Us, again, is intrinsically about characters observing each other. But it ironically it does not allow the audience to do the same. Characters rush from one action or scene to the next, aiming for immediacy to depict moments that do not stick.
Another sticking point is Aster. Nelisse is normally good but the screenplay reduces her to a Gen-Z archetype who doesn’t wash her hair. It is bad enough to watch one helpless character in Rachel but making Aster just like her feels tasteless. There are people who cannot work or work too hard right now. And there is something annoying about watching these two characters someone else’s money with drinking.
Those drinking, bonding, or fighting scenes take place at night, and the visuals during those scenes are bad. Although it does not matter when it is happening. Watching these middle-class white characters restrain themselves from yelling at each other only to resort to that feels unimaginative. This almost feels like satire, but it doesn’t breathe like one or take leaps and risks like one.