Michelle Pfeiffer goes all out in an intentionally bleak performance as Kyra, a troubled loser in what is a very understated and sad film directed by Andrew Dosunmu from a screenplay by Darci Picoult. The acting by Pfeiffer is a classic example of an actress playing a role in counterpoint to her customary screen images.
We see Kyra in Brooklyn caring for her elderly, ailing mother. After her mother dies, Kyra is alone in her struggle for survival. She is in an increasingly desperate financial situation, owing rent, unable to find work and growing more and more frantic.
A ray of hope in her life is getting into a romantic relationship with a decent chap played by Kiefer Sutherland, but he can’t lift her out of her troubles, and when he learns what she is up to, he is reluctant to go along with it, although he really wants to help her. Kyra takes to disguising herself as her dead mother and proceeding to illegally collect benefits that her mother has been getting. The image of Pfeiffer dressed as an old lady is a striking one, and the actress makes the most of her trudging along and carrying out her deceptions.
We know that eventually she must get caught—one can’t get away with such a deception forever. How it all happens is well dramatized, and we watch the further descent of Kyra. It is a bold performance by Pfeiffer and the director keeps the film at a steadily depressing level. But watching this tragedy unfold is a bummer of an experience despite the film’s all-around quality. A Paladin release. Reviewed April 6, 2018.