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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

Raymond and Ray: Review

Raymond and Ray Synopsis: Half-brothers Raymond and Ray reunite when their father dies – and discover that his final wish was for them to dig his grave. Together, they process who they’ve become as men, both because of their father and in spite of him.

Estranged half-brothers Raymond and Ray reunite amidst the passing of their abusive father in Raymond and Ray. A reflective coming-of-age tale where two of the industry’s most charismatic talents – Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor – star as siblings looking to overcome their harrowing past seems too enticing to pass up. Unfortunately, this lukewarm title from the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival slate goes through the motions with little in terms of depth and personality.

Writer and director Rodrigo García certainly brings good intentions to the table. His focus is not only on coming to terms with trauma and conflicting emotions left in the wake of a problematic family member, but also ruminating on the stagnant dynamics left behind for the survivors of such an experience. Watching Raymond and Ray rediscover their relationship’s fleeting joys and lingering pains while being introduced to a new perspective on their father’s legacy presents an intriguing canvas for a meaningful tale of maturation.

Somewhere along the way, Raymond and Ray loses focus on that intriguing ideal. García exhibits competence in his storytelling approach yet rarely digs beneath the pained exteriors of his characters. The simplicity straddles Hawk and McGregor with little to build upon with their characters. While both actors are too radiant and affectionate to mail in their performances, neither can do enough to showcase the complex stew of internalized emotions resting in their characters’ mindsets.

Raymond and Ray ends up feeling like your typical, mawkishly sentimental festival film without those nuanced textures. Every detail – from García’s static, washed-out color scheme to the array of supporting characters that only exist to deliver seemingly profound speeches, and let’s not forget the painfully manipulative musical score – lands like reheated leftovers that can’t quite replicate the far superior dish they aspire to. Audiences can practically set their watches to when each unsurprising third-act reveal and moment of forced levity will occur.

Raymond and Ray isn’t necessarily a bad film; it’s just a profoundly uninteresting one that wastes the talents of its well-suited lead actors.


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