Movies are a way of reminding ourselves we’re complex human beings. We like to avoid pain, and even better, we want to put off facing our pain and moving on. We find a personal safety and comfort in avoidance. In Cyrus Mirakhor’s Wake, we explore the idea of moving on after grief in this light family drama.
It’s Molly’s (Myndy Crist) birthday, and the party is in full swing with daughter Sam (Paige Searcy), mother Ivy (Caroline Lagerfelt), and handyman Frank (Paul Sroili) in attendance. Two exciting things come out of this party. The first is a gag gift of a full-size blow-up doll crafted to look like Molly’s husband (and Sam’s father) Peter, who passed away in a bicycle accident not so long ago. Then there’s the revelation that Ivy purchased tickets for Molly and Sam to vacation in Moscow—a trip promised to Sam long ago. Molly freaks out at the announcement and insists the trip is immediately canceled. So much for a Happy Birthday.
“…a gag gift of a full-size blow-up doll crafted to look like Molly’s husband, Peter…”
Oh, I forgot. There’s a third fun fact. Molly’s “Home, Sweet” home doubles as a funeral home. Yep, in front, a quite beautiful, affluent, suburban home, and in the back, there’s a funeral home business, where Molly prepares the bodies for viewing by loved ones. Don’t read too much into this. It’s really just a small business in her home.
Throughout the first act, we learn that Molly has severe agoraphobia and is unable to leave the house ever since Peter’s passing. Molly has so entrenched her life in the house, that Ivy has been tasked to attend all of Sam’s school functions, and handyman Frank does all the little tasks needed away from the house. Sam, on the other hand, passive-aggressively refuses to comply with her mother’s request, so Molly will have to leave the house to survive. Life indoors has become so bad for her, that the blow-up doll of Peter comes to life (with the help of comedian Jo Koy) in her mind. This hallucination/blow-up sex doll provides the missing love and encouragement she no longer gets from her dead husband and at night, gets the “love” she no longer receives from her dead husband.