RAYMOND & RAY (APPLE TV+) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: Half brothers Raymond and Ray reunite when their estranged 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.
Sometimes you might discover a little gem among the unwanted, discarded stuff at flea markets, ebay or Carousell. In this case, we discovered Raymond & Ray while channel surfing. Not sure if this is the appropriate description but this under-the-radar indie comes from the year 2022, an Apple original it seems.
Character actors, Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke stars as half-brothers, Raymond and Ray who has to get together to attend the funeral of their estranged father, Harris. As the story goes, we learned that the brothers has a tumultuous past owing to the abusive, womanising and controlling Harris. Ray is reluctant to attend the funeral but Raymond needs him to drive him there as his license is revoked due to a DUI.
As the duo reached the funeral home and the subsequent office of their late dad’s lawyer, they discover his last wish is for the brothers to dig the grave and lowering his casket by themselves. And if this is not weird enough, the brothers also found out that Harris has sired more offspring that the mere two.
Dark comedy is a hard genre to attempt. It can be as clever and delicious as the recent The Menu, as ridiculous funny as The Dictator or as thought-provoking as The Banshees of Inisherin. Unfortunately, Raymond & Ray falls neither into all these categories, maybe closer to the remake of Death At A Funeral perhaps. Still, it’s not a bad movie after all.
The whole dysfunctional family tropes are in full force here. Deep down, Raymond bears a grudge against his dad for sleeping with his wife. Ray can’t forgive Harris for destroying his love for music. Both men and their respective mothers suffered emotional and physical abuses from Harris despite the fact that plenty of people found Harris a charming and lovable man, a drastic difference from the brothers’ impression of him.
There’s a fine balance between siblings love and their imperfections being portrayed and often, moments of humour and ugly truth are heard through the brothers’ verbal jab and clashes. As expected, Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke delivers excellent performances though the latter wavering accent is kind of a distraction. While Raymond is seen as meek, Ray on the other hand is slightly unhinged likely caused partly by the death of his wife. Their opposing personality traits and their bizarre predicament helps them face their dark abusive past and the narrative never came up short.
To be honest, the third act is kind of clunky as two female characters are deliberately introduced to pair off the brothers, a younger woman named Lucia whom their father was living with and Keira, their father’s nurse. Despite this minor nitpick, Raymond & Ray is an enjoyable dark comedy, not a masterpiece but definitely not a trainwreck either.
Review by Linus Tee