Review: We Don’t Belong Here (2017)

Director: Peer Pedersen | 85 minutes | drama | Actors: Catherine Keener, Anton Yelchin, Kaitlyn Dever, Riley Keough, Annie Starke, Molly Shannon, Justin Chatwin, Austin Abrams, Debra Mooney, Maya Rudolph, Cary Elwes, Michelle Hurd, Sarah Ramos, Mary Quick, Mark Famiglietti

As a half-year-old boy, Anton Yelchin came to the United States from St. Petersburg at the end of 1989, together with his parents, a world-famous Russian figure skating couple. In a December 1989 Los Angeles Times interview, his mother said a woman had come to her, pointed to her son, and said, “He’s beautiful. He will later become an actor. ” Prophetic words, would later turn out. Although Anton’s parents initially hoped that he would follow in their footsteps. But young Yelchin had not inherited his parents’ figure skating genes. “I really didn’t do anything,” he said later. “Then I wanted to become a scientist, but after I set the bathroom on fire, I had to give up that too. My dream was to become a basketball player. But then again, I’m not a very tall, white, Russian-Jewish boy, so that didn’t work out either. ” The clairvoyant lady who already ascribed a future as an actor to him as a baby turned out to be right. Yelchin made his debut in ‘A Man Mostly Water’ (2000) at the age of eleven, and went on to star in ‘Hearts of Atlantis’ (2001), ‘Alpha Dog’ (2006), ‘Terminator Salvation’ (2009), Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) and three Star Trek movies. A promising career was nipped in the bud when Yelchin was stuck by his own car in a freak accident in June 2016 and died. The talented Russian-American actor turned only 27 years old.

The very last film Yelchin made was “We Don’t Belong Here” (2017) by first-time director Peer Pedersen. Catherine Keener plays Nancy Green, the mother of four. The family is, as they call it, quite dysfunctional. The only one who seems to have them all listed is the eldest daughter Madeline (Annie Starke), the other children all have psychological problems. Daughter Elisa (Riley Keough) is a successful singer, but under the surface is a lot of suffering. In her youth she experienced a severe trauma that marked her life. Perhaps that’s why she is stuck in a rather difficult relationship with Tomas (Justin Chatwin). Curiously, her mother is not aware of the true nature of her problems, and as a result, does not know why Elisa broke off her ties with home. Maxwell (Anton Yelchin) is Nancy’s favorite, her only son. He once came out to his youngest sister, backed down but has since struggled with his sexuality. In one of the first scenes, we see him bleach his hair and then jump out a window – chasing his tragic lover? As if childhood trauma, suicidality and struggles with sexual identity are nothing within one family, there is also the youngest daughter of the Green family, Lily (Kaitlyn Dever), who suffers from bipolar disorder and refuses to take her medication. Mother Nancy doesn’t remember it all either (not surprising!) And finds support – and more! – with her best friend Joanne (Maya Rudolph).

If you think: that is an awful lot what the Green family has to deal with within ninety minutes; You got that absolutely right. How much misery can a person tolerate? The characters in themselves are interesting, but putting them all together in one film makes it a lot. Dosing had been the magic word here. If Pedersen had highlighted the problems of one, or at most two family members, we could have coped better and the big picture would have come out better. In addition to an overdose of problems, “We Don’t Belong Here” is also notable for its chaos. We see the events through the eyes of Lily, who, in addition to bipolar disorder, also seems to suffer from delusions, because we regularly see things happening on the screen that don’t really happen (it turns out later). Sometimes such a “nothing is what it seems” approach works, but clearly not here. As a viewer you feel fooled. The cast, led by the great Catherine Keener, is trying their best, but also fail to bring order to the chaos called “We Don’t Belong Here”. For debutant Peer Pedersen, who is not only responsible for directing, but also for the screenplay, we have a tip: make sure you have a little more focus next time. Because somewhere the potential of this filmmaker is certainly visible, but in the maze of psychic wrecks, confused storylines and misleading images, all the talent involved is thoroughly snowed under.

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