What They Had – Movie Review

What They Had – R
Release Date: Fri 19 Oct 2018

Writer/director Elizabeth Chomko dazzles in this debut film about a family trying to deal with wife and mother Ruth’s (Blythe Danner) worsening Alzheimer’s.

The events of the movie begin when Ruth wanders out of the home she shares with husband Burt (Robert Forster.) Burt calls his local son Nick (Michael Shannon) who in turn calls his sister Bridget (Hilary Swank) who flies in from out of state with her daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga.)

Nick is bitter with Bridget for leaving him to deal with the deteriorating situation. Bridget hasn’t been around her mother enough recently to realize how bad things are, and Burt is dead set against any living situation besides the one that he has now.

There’s plenty of comedy to relieve the tensions and drama as well as plenty of different relationship dynamics between the main characters. But I do have to say, once we have a good feel for the characters around the 30-minute mark, the rest of the movie will have you on the verge of tears if not outright weeping. Beneath all the strain and disagreement lies a beautiful story of love and family, and Ruth’s occasional moments of clear thinking are devastating.

What They Had is a beautiful film and a fantastic debut for its writer/director. Bring the tissues and someone you love.


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