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'Eric LaRue' review: Judy Greer shines as the broken mother of a school shooter in Michael Shannon's directorial debut

In Michael Shannon’s directorial debut, a cast of talented actors effectively defies genre, none more so than Judy Greer , ostensibly Numb from grief but inside like a mother whose son shot and killed three high school classmates. While the subject inevitably draws comparisons to Mass, the popular 2021 Chamber Music – and actor Fran Kranz’s first feature film – focuses on the same Two sets of parents on both sides of the tragedy. Eric LaRue takes a broader view and focuses on wider community and religious leaders fumbling or manipulating conversations about healing.

Shannon’s ingrained solid roots in Chicago theater are now his choice of material and his success in assembling a stellar cast — for an indie film of this modest size, Very strong in every way this.

Eric LaRue

Bottom line Intense and riveting.

Based on the play of the same name by Brett Neveu, which premiered in at the Red Orchid Theatre, which Shannon co-founded. He reserved an optional supporting role as the fanatical religious leader for Steppenwolf fixture Tracy Letts, author of two plays on Shannon’s original character, Killer Joe

and vulnerabilities . The cast also includes the director’s wife and Windy City stage veteran Kate Arrington, as well as his close friend and frequent collaborator Paul Sparks and his

wife, Annie Parisse .

In another key connection, Jeff Nichols directs Shannon in Shotgun Stories, Refuge , Mud , Midnight Special, Loving and next The Bikeriders , as executive producer.

Greer as Janice LaRue, first seen sitting in her parked car, summons into an unidentified man with a mask of anxiety on her face Willingness of the town’s supermarket.

Janice is startled by Chipped First Presbyterian Pastor Steve Calhan (Sparks) as she prowls the aisles like a zombie, She gently encouraged her to come to church whenever she felt ready to speak. Referring to the clouds that have hung in the sky since the murders committed by her son Eric (National Sage Henriksen), whom Janice hasn’t visited in the months he’s been in prison, Steve tells her , “You should try to think beyond what happened. Try to think about what will happen next.”

This is essentially the theme of the movie – after going through The struggle to move on after a paralyzing life event, and the often misguided advice of concerned outsiders, seeks to provide answers to unanswerable questions and balms to incurable pain.

At home, Janice, at the urging of her husband Ron (Alexander Skarsgard Alexander Skarsgard), went to the Church of the Redeemer to seek spiritual asylum. The jovial church he recently joined was led by inspirational evangelist Bill Verne (Letts, deftly exercising imperious authority). But Ron’s Sunday school-style preaching — all “let Jesus into your heart” and “Jesus will take your burden away” and laying on of hands — increasingly irritated his wife, and she didn’t use the easy solutions .

Ron’s religious zeal is inflamed by the friendship of his company’s HR manager, Lisa, a messianic worshipper, who plays with the dreaded, frantic frenzy and a hint of Sexual seduction is great Alison Pill.

Lisa’s pep talk in the car while driving Ron home after the group prayer meeting, or in some ways inappropriate communication in the office, makes She’s more suspicious than Bill’s source of help. However, the latter further widens the gulf between Ron and Janice by reminding Ron of what the Bible teaches about the prescribed roles of male dominance and female subordination in the family.

The film observes Janice closely as she recalls Eric’s childhood, or takes on the harrowing task of rearranging a bedroom whose door seems Closed for months as a constant, face-to-face reminder.

She also felt a sense of community support when Jack (Lawrence Grimm, another Red Orchid co-founder) was a department manager at the hardware store where she worked. Her insecurity—that she owns an abundance of guns—insists her taking extended vacations. “If you stare into the abyss for too long, the abyss will stare back into you,” he told her, which sounded less like a warning than a fait accompli.

But the main dramatic momentum builds around the conflicting attempts of Reverend Steve and Bill to arrange a sit-in between Larouse and the mother of the murdered youth of. Ron clumsily tries to make the law, ordering Janice to join the savior’s program, one of whose mothers, Laura Gates (Jennifer Engstrom), speaks in tongues and spends the service in an ecstatic trance.

Janice continues to meet with Steve in defiance of her husband’s wishes. Grieving mother Jill (Arrington) attends these events, and her coping mechanism appears to be one of absence; Stephanie (Parisse) makes little effort to hide her anger, especially when Janice expresses her anger or frustration. Steve’s well-meaning but clumsy amateur psychology only exacerbates these situations.

One of the questions Shannon’s film poses with skepticism and honest musings is whether turning to God in this situation is

Ultimately, Janice’s cathartic step lies not in seeking forgiveness or any kind of peace through the victim’s mother, but in summoning the decision to visit Eric in prison. In that tense, expertly played encounter, he expresses remorse but rejects his mother’s attempts to comfort and understand, ending the film on a hauntingly ambiguous note.

Actually, Eric Larue is a frustrating guy, but it’s a A work of thoughtful intelligence and restraint, elegantly shot and a startling score full of dissonance by Jonathan Mastro, often evokes the strings of a feeling that nerves are about to break.

Most importantly, it’s beautifully acted. It’s especially fun to watch Skarsgard dial back on his natural charisma and play a pristine cow with a bad haircut and a styleless dad uniform whose weaknesses lead him toward easy solutions. Sparks is equally notable because deep down he seems to know that his folk brand mediation is getting little success. It was also nice to see New York stage treasure Marylouise Burke in a small role.

But Greer’s performance keeps you captivated — at times relentless, at other times emotional, empty or exhausted beyond description, bleeding wounds that may not have a Band-Aid.

Full credits

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight Narrative) Production companies: Caliwood Pictures, Big Indie, Brace Cove Cast: Judy Greer, Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Sparks, Alison Pill, Tracy Letts, Annie Parisse, Kate Arrington, Marylouise Burke, Nation Sage Henrikson, Jennifer Engstrom, Mierka “Mookie” Girten, Lawrence Grimm 2021 Director: Michael Shannon Screenwriter: Brett Neveu, from his script Producers: Sarah Green, Karl Hartman, Jina Panebianco
Executive Producers: R. Wesley Sierk, John D. Straley, Joseph Panebianco, Jojo Ryder, Jeff Nichols, Declan Baldwin, Byron Wetzel, Meghan Schumacher Director of Photography: Andrew Wheeler
Production Designer: Chad Keith Costume Designer: Alexis Forte 4124702 Music: Jonathan Mastro Edit: Mike Selemon Casting: Avy Kaufman Sales: Range Media Partners, CAA 1 hour2002 minutes

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