At first, the Blake family's Thanksgiving dinner seems like an unlikely backdrop for another A24 masterpiece. But as we intrude upon the intimate opening scene in The Humans we can't help but sense that we're in for a moving experience.
Adapted from the Tony award-winning play of the same name, Billie Holiday's Autumn in New York immediately greets you in the trailer for A24's The Humans. From a shadowy, chilly and somewhat empty Chinatown apartment we meet an impressive cast all seated around a collapsible dining table. Immediately we recognise Beanie Feldstein and the steady voice of Richard Jenkins, along with Steven Yeun, June Squibb and Jayne Houdyshell. But it takes a little longer to register Amy Schumer, who has stepped away from her usual comic-heavy roles to try on one far more compelling.
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Capturing the stoicism, frankness and wry humour linked to the inhabitants of New York City, The Humans zeros in on three generations of the Blake family over the course of one evening. For his debut film, director and writer Stephen Karam masterfully explores the anxieties and complex dynamics of familial ties; and weaved through the trailer are discussions about depression and ageing.
A24 have presented it as, "a stirring and flawlessly acted family drama — an honorary new entry in the NYC apartment horror canon." And it is as much about people as it is about place. The post-war architecture of the dilapidated apartment with its' leaking pipes, mould and cracked dry wall is an undeniable presence within the film - something all characters have to endure and resist. It's the famous trade off of living in NYC; behind all the culture and possibilities is the constant feeling of being ground down. As Richard Jenkins poignantly put it, "don't you think it should cost less to be alive?"
Although, don't be deterred by its' weighty themes, there is humour to be found in The Humans; and the film is as much about the struggle to keep moving forward as it is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.
Collect your loved ones and settle in for The Humans, coming to theatres and Showtime this Thanksgiving, or November 25 for those of us outside of the US. In the meantime, dive into the newly released trailer below.