My Fiona Image

My Fiona

By Benjamin Franz | December 30, 2021

To mourn those who have passed is a shared human experience. People come into our lives, and just as suddenly, they leave. Often, the exit is hard, and the survivors are forced to confront difficult truths about their time being family, friends, or lovers with the decedent. This is exponentially compounded when the person dies by suicide. Such is the scenario we are confronted with in My Fiona, written and directed by Kelly Walker.

In the cold open, Fiona (Sara Amini) leaps from the roof of the building where she and Jane (Jeanette Malus) run their boutique startup focusing on skincare. There is no warning, and the emotional outburst demonstrated by Malus, when she learns of her best friend’s fate, feels organic. The annoying, repetitive, instantly recognizable ring of the alarm of the car Fiona collided with emphasizes Jane’s jarring sense of Sturm and Drang. This is superb acting on the part of Malus.

My Fiona is Walker’s first feature-length film, and it’s a deeply insightful one. The filmmaker wisely centers on the travails of three survivors of the eponymous Fiona’s suicide: Jane, Gemma (Corbin Reid), and Gemma and Fiona’s son, Bailey (Elohim Nycalove). The emotional damage on display is both evocative and haunting. Bailey’s psychological damage, left from being deprived of the parent who meaningfully connected with him, is harrowing and poignant. This is the portrayal of a child from a broken home writ intimately. From the death of his imaginary reptile to his various violent outbursts toward his friends and classmates, Nycalove is very human here.

“…centers on the travails of three survivors of the eponymous Fiona’s suicide…”

Directing children is not an easy feat. However, Walker’s capable hand guides this young man through a difficult emotional minefield, which is exceedingly laudatory. This is an excellent portrayal of living through grief in the 21st century. Instead of simply working through emotional states, Bailey is prescribed medication to handle the trauma. Indeed, medications take a small digression in the text.

There is a huge fight between the survivors concerning a particularly fractious and complicated drug, one that may have brought about suicidal ideations. However, as that particular scene goes nowhere, it seems a weird addition. It’s as if Walker felt the script didn’t possess enough action beats. This is one of the few odd missteps My Fiona takes.

Another is the identifying of Fiona and her family as Jewish, without really adorning that label with anything recognizable. Speaking as a practicing Jew, I found the yarmulke (skull cap or Kippah) the Rabbi at the funeral wore off-putting. Regardless of which pluralistic branch of Judaism Fiona, Gemma, and Bailey belonged to, the Rabbi should definitely be wearing a traditional black felt or velvet garment on his head. The oddly shaped piece of cloth did not connote a Rabbi. Certainly not a conservative one, nor a reform, or even Reconstructionist clergyman. It’s a small detail, yet it stuck out like a sore thumb.

Despite the mentioned missteps, My Fiona is a wonderful first feature film from Kelly Walker. The actors invite you in to experience the trauma and heartbreak at hand. If you can stomach stories centered around suicide, this is worthy of viewing.

My Fiona (2021)

Directed and Written: Kelly Walker

Starring: Jeanette Malus, Corbin Reid, Elohim Nycalove, Sara Amini, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

My Fiona Image

"…a wonderful first feature film from Kelly Walker."

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  1. Sarah Thom says:

    Her name is Jeanette Maus. She was an amazing actress who passed away this year. Please check the spelling next time you write an article. She was my cousin and it is really sad to see her name misspelled throughout this article.

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