The Estate Image

The Estate

By Rob Rector | January 20, 2022

NEW TO HULU! By their very title, “eat-the-rich” comedies usually dabble in the murkier waters of human behavior. The Estate, though, bypasses those brackish ponds and dives right in the tar pit. There’s not a shred of morality to be found within its frames, and, quite honestly, it’s all the better for it. But like sociopathic siblings of the Bluth clan from Arrested Development, these characters quickly cross into comedic turf, and you settle in to watch them get what’s coming.

Written by its star Chris Baker and helmed by first-time feature director James Kapner, the comedic thriller zeroes in on a highly dysfunctional “family” consisting of hedonistic trophy wife Lux (Eliza Coupe) and her self-serving stepson George (Baker), who are algae-feeding off the palatial home of affluent a*s Marcello (Eric Roberts). You need no deeper look into this mother-son relationship beyond their open scene together, where she asks George to accompany her into a poor part of town so she can have random sex, and he doesn’t bat a lash.

“…zeroes in on a highly dysfunctional ‘family’ of hedonistic trophy wife and her self-serving stepson…”

While in a grimy honkytonk bar, they encounter hunky Joe (Greg Finley), a drifter who is more than happy to oblige Lux’s quest. George notices that Joe’s eyes have also wandered in his direction, so he is pleased to have Joe hang around the homestead for a spell. When Joe hears the two complaining about the wretched behavior of globe-trotting Marcello, he offers to kill him so that they may inherit his fortune and, quite literally, cut out the middle man. Before long, they are all plotting an elaborate scheme when Marcello returns, and given the collective IQ of these people, you can assume things will not go smoothly. In fact, the bodies begin to pile in their quest for cash, and in this familial pit of vipers, no one is safe from being bitten. 

Things get nasty and bloody throughout The Estate, for sure. But what makes this neon-soaked nihilistic romp perpetually entertaining is the round of bravura performances from its leads. Coupe is an absolute blast. When confronted by George that she had sex with his father on his mother’s deathbed, she insists: “It was not her death bed! She was in a coma!” Baker also packs charisma to spare, channeling Ryan Reynolds. You can see he relishes being able to dig deep into his id-fueled character, and the razorblade writing gives him and Coupe line after line of slicing dialogue. When your film features a role for Eric Roberts as a rich, philandering husband and he emerges as one of its most ethical people, you know you’re wading in the dark, deep end.

There’s no nuanced subtlety to be found here, as exemplified in Parasite and its caste system takedown. Nope, director Kapner doesn’t have time for that. He keeps things moving fast and furious, with wonderfully witty transitions and contrasting the ink-black themes with candy-colored sets. It will certainly not appeal to anyone who likes at least one person to root for in their films (The L Word’s Heather Matarazzo pops in as a sugar-sweet receptionist who also has ulterior motives). But for those who felt James McNaughton’s Wild Things was too chaste and cheery, The Estate is right in their wheelhouse.

The Estate screened at the 2020 Newport Beach Film Festival.

The Estate (2021)

Directed: James Kapner

Written: Chris Baker

Starring: Chris Baker, Eliza Coupe, Greg Finley, Eric Roberts, Heather Matarazzo, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

The Estate Image

"…for those who felt Wild Things was too chaste and cheery, The Estate is right in their wheelhouse."

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  1. THE ESTATE(2020)ダークコメディスリラーのレビューとリリースニュース - John Hockenberry [JP] says:

    […] 「ディレクターKapnerは、素晴らしく機知に富んだトランジションと、インクブラックのテーマとキャンディーカラーのセットを対比させて、物事を猛烈な勢いで動かし続けます。 それは確かに彼らの映画で応援するために少なくとも一人の人が好きな人にはアピールしません […] しかし、ジェームズ・マクノートンの ワイルドシングス 貞淑で陽気すぎた、 エステート 彼らの操舵室にいます。」 映画の脅威 […]

  2. THE ESTATE (2020) Critiques et nouvelles sur la sortie du thriller de comédie noire - John Hockenberry [FR] says:

    […] «Le réalisateur Kapner fait avancer les choses rapidement et furieusement, avec des transitions merveilleusement pleines d’esprit et contrastant ses thèmes noir d’encre avec des décors de couleur bonbon. Cela ne plaira certainement pas à quiconque aime au moins une personne à s’enraciner dans leurs films […] Mais pour ceux qui ont ressenti le sentiment de James McNaughton Les choses sauvages était trop chaste et gai, Le Domaine est juste dans leur timonerie. Menace cinématographique […]

  3. THE ESTATE (2020) Recensioni e notizie di rilascio per il thriller commedia oscura - John Hockenberry [IT] says:

    […] “Il regista Kapner mantiene le cose in movimento veloce e furioso, con transizioni meravigliosamente spiritose e contrastando i suoi temi nero inchiostro con set color caramello. Certamente non piacerà a chi ama almeno una persona per cui tifare nei suoi film […] Ma per coloro che si sentivano come James McNaughton Cose selvagge era troppo casto e allegro, La tenuta è proprio nella loro timoneria.” Minaccia cinematografica […]

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