Let’s be real. Relationships, whether family or romantic, are the most important need we humans have next to food and water. But, as important as they are, they’re usually messy, painful, and take a lot of work to keep going.
Filmmaker Kyle Henry tells a simple, yet captivating story about two middle-aged couples on the north side of Chicago who can’t fully move forward with their lives because of the demons of their past.
Grace (Sara Sevigny) and her husband Zeke (Antoine McKay), pretend to have the perfect marriage and careers in the presence of their friends. But, behind closed doors are hiding deep-seeded financial, sexual, and emotional issues. Meanwhile, Grace’s brother Chris, a struggling writer, is a little “too open” about his contempt for his sister, his failing career, and how he is barely holding on to his girlfriend Deena (Christine Horn).
“…behind closed doors are hiding deep-seeded financial, sexual, and emotional issues.”
Most of the movie deals with the fact Grace and Chris blame each other for not being there enough for their abusive father as he was dying. This is a big reason why they can’t be around each other for more than a few minutes before they are at each other’s throats. And of course, this trickles into every other area of their lives.
Add to that Zeke, Grace’s husband, who appears to be a successful real estate agent, has been egregiously irresponsible with their finances, and after keeping this hidden from his wife for years, is now on the verge of losing everything they own.
Then there’s Deena. A beautiful, charming, intelligent, political activist who in every other facet of her life is successful, remains faithful to Chris and allows him to pull her down into his pit of self-pity and loathing. But when she’s pushed too far, eventually opens herself up to other men.
What stands out the most in Rogers Park is, though both couples are interracial, it’s never really the focus. In fact, it’s not even an afterthought. Which that in itself is worth noting. This is just story of people. People, who very much like ourselves, want the world to believe they have it figured out. That is until the BS in their lives becomes too much handle.
“…so real that most couples who watch this movie together might cringe with memories of very similar fights they’ve had.”
The film also does an amazing job of showing how there are no “quick fixes” in changing who we are. We see the character of Chris trying to grow and be a better man, but like in real life, has triggers that set him right back to the damaged person he was. I can relate to this more easily than I’m comfortable admitting.
There’s another scene where Grace and Zeke have an argument about their sex life and finances that was extremely hard to watch. But, at the same time is was so real that most couples who watch this movie together might cringe with memories of very similar fights they’ve had.
The acting is what sells this movie for me. Everyone involved did a fantastic job of making their characters authentic and relatable. Special nod to Sara Sevigny especially, who delivers a gut-wrenching performance!
The film industry has been saturated with big-budget superhero and fantasy films for more than a little while now. Rogers Park is a refreshing break from what’s become the CGI norm. It’s a movie with heart, about real people, real issues, and very real pain.
Rogers Park (2018) Directed by Kyle Henry. Written by Carlos Trevino. Starring Sara Sevigny, Jonny Mars, Antoine McKay, and Christine Horn
9 out of 10