A week at a couples’ therapy retreat — where kids can explore the Pacific coast while their parents work on their issues — exposes the fractures in a biracial family, in Meredith Hama-Brown’s debut feature.
Set a decade or so in the past, Meredith Hama-Brown’s debut feature tells the story of a family on the verge of coming closer together — or drifting further apart.
Judith (Ally Maki) is Japanese Canadian; her husband Steve (Luke Roberts) is white. They’re having some problems communicating with each other, so they’ve found a family retreat on the Pacific coast where kids can hang out while their parents confront one another in group-therapy sessions. But the time together exposes new fractures in the family’s internal dynamic: 11-year-old Stephanie (Nyha Breitkreuz) starts acting out, while six-year-old Emmy (Remy Marthaller) insists she can feel Judith’s recently departed mother watching over them all.
Whether or not Emmy is right, something is certainly hanging over this family — a cloud of tension and dissatisfaction between Judith and Steve that neither can fully articulate, but both recognize. And the more time Judith spends around another couple, Carol (Sarah Gadon) and Pat (Chris Pang), the more she worries that saving her marriage might not be the best move.
Drawing on personal themes through a fictional lens and also reflecting on her own racial identity, writer-director Hama-Brown (TIFF Filmmaker Lab, 2020) crafts a knotty, insightful drama about the interwoven complexities of marriage and parenthood, and the mistakes families pass on from one generation to the next. Driven by the powerful performances of Maki (the TV series Wrecked and Hacks) and newcomer Breitkreuz, Seagrass announces the arrival of a perceptive new voice in Canadian cinema.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: mature themes, coarse language, sexually suggestive scenes