Courtesy Firstness Film

Brielle Brilliant’s debut feature takes place in New Mexico, but it may as well be where the sidewalk ends. Keith (Tim Kinsella) is trying to get his life together while caring for Tavi (Spencer Jording), a nonbinary child who seems to have it a lot more together than their dad does. Keith’s days rotate around a therapy group in which members are encouraged to reenact traumatic events. The sessions sometimes make him lose his tether to the day-to-day, which allows Tavi to do as they please. When they make friends with Julian (Caleb Cabrera), things come to a head. Even in this loosey-goosey society of lost souls, the undefined connection between a child and a grown man draws scrutiny and judgment.

Grappling with familial instability, gender identity, and mental illness, the film has a lot on its mind but moves along with surprising lightness and grace. The feeling of each of the characters trying their very best to connect to the world and to one another makes it completely engrossing. The pressure from those absent—like Keith’s wife, whose phone calls he dreads—are as palpable as the people we see onscreen. It’s to Brilliant’s great credit that she summons a whole world of human connections while showing so little. The one slight misstep is the jarringly abrupt ending. I would have liked another ten or 20 minutes with Tavi and Keith. But perhaps the fractured conclusion is meant to further highlight the inconclusiveness of their lives. 78 min.

Wide release on VOD