Written by Alexandra Clayton, Michal Sinnott, and Joseph Schollaert, with Clayton and Sinnott also directing, Unpacking is a comedic adventure wholly about drama. If all that sounds tangled, it’s because that’s the point. It’s a film by and for women that everyone should appreciate.
Six women attend the Woman Soul Reset Retreat in Bali led by influencer and wellness guru Keri Hart (Sam Bianchini). As the event unfolds, the group helps each other “unpack” their issues and reset, but it turns out Keri actually needs a retreat, not lead one. Immediately, it is clear that Eithne (Stephanie Ann Whited) is the resistant one. The silent “th” in her name is a giveaway for her issues. Her partner was supposed to join her, but in an effort for her to become a better person, she chose to stay home.
Unpacking also introduces us to Eithne’s roommate, Jackie (Jessica Rotondi). She is the glue of the retreat and a bit of a rebel and has a tryst with Happy (Gandhi Fernando), a “kuta cowboy,” a Bali man who seduces women without commitment. He happens to be the only male in the film. Sisters Ruby (Alexandra Clayton) and Charlotte (Michal Sinnott) must make peace with each other and themselves concerning their health, motherhood, and family. Alice (Katie Braden) needs to unleash herself.
“…perform rituals, participate in ceremonies, and eventually break out of their heavy prisons of emotional distress.”
The ladies journal, meditate, practice yoga, perform rituals, participate in ceremonies, and eventually break out of their heavy prisons of emotional distress. As tensions and emotions bubble over, Keri falls apart with a panic attack and leaves the retreat in the hands of her yogi sidekick influencer. Now, Ni Ketut (Dania Arancha) must rise to the occasion and experience reality beyond existing in her meta world as a princess influencer.
Throughout Unpacking, divorce, bad relationships, egos, obstacles, self-deprecation, and so much more are all brought into the open for these chosen women to confront. There are moments discussing the pain of pregnancy and its physical damage, bouts of drunkenness, and forgiveness. There are spirit animals, essence, masks, and feathers, too. On the surface, it all may sound very ridiculous, but real change occurs within at least some of these women. Also, the narrative and character arcs come with a sprinkling of humor that helps set the mood.
Unpacking is not a long, drawn-out ordeal. It’s fun, it’s female, and it’s enjoyable, especially since it is set in the paradise that is Bali. The structure is thoughtful, especially the soundtrack, and, for the most part, its characters are believable. Admittedly, the comments on indigenous cultural rituals that are made are slightly ironic since the film is really about middle-class white women’s problems.
"…It’s fun, it’s female, and it's enjoyable..."