The Humans Review

Thanksgiving is a holiday where families get together to be thankful for everything they have in their lives. Usually, it’s a relaxing time and a time to take a break from work and catch up with family members and or friends over a nice meal, some eggnog, and football. Showtime and A24 have brought their Thanksgiving film, The Humans, to the small screens. It is a gift to the masses on this holiday.

A father (Richard Jenkins) decides to gather up his family and leave Pennsylvania where they’re from to go to his daughter’s (Beanie Feldstein) apartment in lower Manhattan to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday together. As the sun goes down, things start happening in the apartment and secrets start to come out amongst the family members. 

Stephan Karam has adapted his one-act play from 2016 into a major motion picture and it’s a very moody atmospheric film. He has captured the drama of a family who has gathered together for a holiday or any other occasion perfectly, similar to August, Osage County in a way. The various members of the family have their own issues kind of like real life. The tension between them is palpable at times.

As a man with a father, a couple of brothers, a sister, and five nieces and nephews, I can relate to the family dynamic in The Humans. We all have our own things that we bring to the table, pun intended, as far as members of this family. This family in The Humans is very reminiscent of a lot of families in this country.

A good family drama like The Humans needs a good cast at its core. Jenkins and Feldstein are both terrific in their father and daughter roles. Stephen Yuen (Minari) is the boyfriend of Feldstein’s character. He doesn’t have much to do in this film. Amy Schumer plays a second sister. She’s got a relationship and health issues she’s dealing with. June Squibb is in a throwaway role, playing the grandmother who has dementia and sleepwalking issues. 

The Humans has a feeling of dread at times in it and the fact that the apartment has its own set of issues. The ceilings and pipes make screeching sounds and show signs of age. The living space shows its wear and tear and that is pointed out by various characters in the film. A key sign of lights going out makes the atmosphere of the apartment dark and scary. These elements of the film make it very good.

The Humans has so much going for it at its core. The family dynamic is fantastic and well fleshed out. The moody and atmospheric nature of the apartment and all its characters plays a huge part in why there is so much dread. The actors are all terrific, but Richard Jenkins, a two-time Academy Award nominee stands out amongst them. He has so many layers to his character. That of father, caregivers, and experienced man in a sometimes confusing world. He surely deserves another Academy Award nom for Best Supporting Actor this year. Maybe he’ll finally win one.

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen

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