Review by Dan Skip Allen
The whole world has been dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic for about three years, and it wasn't a good experience for quite a few people. Many people died, and a lot more got the disease and got over it, but it wasn't a good time for them or their families. Even going to work was stressful for people. The whole situation wasn't good, no matter how you look at it. Filmmaker Peter Hedges shows how we were all in the same sailboat, going through The Same Storm.
The Same Storm depicts the lives of about twenty fictional characters in New York City. It shows how they have been dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic. Some of them are frontline workers, and others are sick patients. The movie runs the gambit of people from all walks of life. From white to black and Asian to gay, this epidemic didn't distinguish one from the other — it moved throughout society and killed indiscriminately. It was just as bad as the genocide back during WWII.
With the extensive ensemble must come all the actors playing these characters. Sandra Oh plays a mother of a son with emotional issues and a wife to a husband who may be coming down with something. Ron Livingston and Rosemarie Dewitt play the parents of a fifth grader who may not be getting the education they think he deserves. Allison Pill plays that child's teacher, and she is part of a divided family. She has two brothers who are staunch supporters of Donald Trump, and her third brother is totally against Trump and is a leftist all the way.
The film deals with many topics that people deal with daily, and COVID-19 didn't mean those problems didn't change. Some of the issues that come up in the movie are Black Lives Matter, alcoholism, and old age. Things like these also hit people of all ages, creeds, and races. The filmmakers just wanted to show these things are no different than the pandemic was. I, for one, had many of the same issues during the pandemic as before and now, so I can attest to that.
The film has a specific tone and style because of the pandemic. All the characters were on Zoom calls on their phones or computers. So as most Zoom calls go, they can have issues, and the movie shows that. There are moments when the calls drop and come back. Other moments where they glitch out and get shaky reception, like a standard phone call. Some moments were pretty funny, and I knew I shouldn't laugh, but I did. I couldn't help it.
Peter Hedges (Ben Is Back) has assembled a great cast for this film, some established stars and some up-and-comers like Moses Ingram and Raul Castillo. All the actors take their roles seriously. They could have phoned in their performances, but they didn't. The subject matter that this movie depicts is too important for anybody involved to take it lightly. The film shows how this epidemic has touched everyone from all walks of life, making it all the more powerful. Even though it's not the normal style of filmmaking, it is still effective in eliciting a reaction from those watching. That's the power of film.
The Same Storm is now playing in theaters.