TIFF 2022: RAYMOND & RAY Has A Familiar Premise That Goes To Weird Places
Raymond & Ray is a sibling comedy-drama that starts with a familiar premise. But on the back of its two leading men, the movie becomes a lot more. Written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, this movie deals with a lot of parental issues, and past baggage that two brothers have to overcome to move on with their lives. Raymond & Ray is funny, heartfelt and honestly, gets kind of silly and weird. But it’s never to the detriment of the movie itself. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022, the film is an Apple Original Films production. Read on for my non-spoiler Raymond And Ray review.
A Story That Could’ve Been A Road Trip Movie
The idea behind Raymond & Ray is pretty simple. It’s just a logline, basically. Two brothers get together after years to drive to their estranged father’s funeral, only to discover a lot more about him and themselves along the way. It’s a pretty straightforward idea. But Raymond & Ray wildly diverges from this formula and becomes so much more. Also the screenwriter, Garcia creates so many twists and turns here that one can’t see them coming. But it’s all in service of the movie and not for the sake of surprising the audience.
Along their journey, the two brothers, strangely named after one another, discuss their issues with their father and how each of them has dealt with that baggage over the years. How the mistreatment by their father shaped their lives, and how that damage still impacts them today. It’s great writing since most of it dialogue-based. And if the movie had been just that, it would’ve been fine. But there’s a whole lot more going on.
Spoiler-Free Raymond & Ray Review
Where Raymond & Ray succeeds is in its story. The movie goes from a fake-out road trip to something a lot more wild. As the brothers arrive at their father’s funeral, there are multiple revelations that make them question their perception of him. They meet people who were in their father’s life near the end, and it all makes them reassess what they thought they knew.
It’s difficult to fully discuss the plot points without spoiling things. And the plot twists do come often enough, and are definitely done with dramatic and comedic impact in mind. So I wouldn’t want to spoil them too much in this Raymond & Ray review.
The movie is also carried by the two lead actors, Ewan McGregor & Ethan Hawke. As two brothers with very different lives, these two are delightful to watch with one another. While their characters are somewhat archetypes of ones we’ve seen before, the actors make them their own.
Ewan McGregor & Ethan Hawke Are Delightful!
Ewan McGregor plays Raymond, the more buttoned-down and restrained of the two brothers. While Ethan Hawke plays Ray, a former Jazz musician who has dealt with his fair share of demons. It’s a stereotypical portrayal of two brothers who are poles apart, but the story of Raymond & Ray allows them to expand on these archetypes to create something new.
Both actors’ talents are on full display here. I’ve never noticed how good McGregor is at modulating his voice in his performances. While Hawke displays a kind of masculine vulnerability that he’s perfected over the years. The actors both do a great job of expressing their emotions, as much as they vocally articulate them as well. There’s a fine line between self-awareness and self-expositing the story to audiences. And this movie walks that line pretty well. The supporting cast of Raymond & Ray are also near perfect.
Sophie Okonedo plays a former nurse of their father’s who helps Ray deal with all the resurfaced emotions of his childhood. Vondie Curtis-Hall shows up as a flashy reverend, who was with their father in his last moments. But the stand out of the supporting cast is Maribel Verdu’s Lucia.
Lucia reveals a lot more about their father to them than anyone else. Even being there to help them process after the fact. Verdu plays Lucia as a bubbly and assertive woman who treats their father’s death as a matter-of-fact thing that just happened. She shines because she’s the only one not bothered by the years-long drama that everyone is affected by in this story.
Raymond & Ray shines when it’s dealing with all these themes of past trauma. And how that trauma shapes the person you become in the future. Maybe even affecting your own relationships along the way. The performances of McGregor and Hawke make what they’re going through so very universal as well. Despite the story going to some crazy and wild places, you can relate to and invest in both these characters’ lives.
So much so that when they each receive their eventual release, the audience can share that cathartic experience with them. Raymond & Ray was a pleasant surprise and a quiet movie with a lot of humour and heart that anyone with a dysfunctional family would enjoy. Or even if they don’t. It’s good either way.
Raymond & Ray will release on Apple TV+ on October 21, 2022.
Did you catch this movie at TIFF 22? Let me know your thoughts. Or if this is the kind of movie you’d be interested in when it streams on Apple TV+.