The Same Storm: Austin Film Festival Review

October 24, 202170/1006 min
Norma Dumezweni, Brittany Bradford, Raúl Castillo, Mary- Louise Parker
Written by
Peter Hedges
Directed by
Peter Hedges
Run Time 1h39min
Overall Score
Rating Summary


Art always imitates life and with life being what it has for the last eighteen or nineteen months, you figured some stories about living in that time would come out of it. There has already been some star-studded films such as Together and Locked Down which focus on love during COVID, but as we well know there is so much more to life than love. Writer/director Peter Hedges (Ben is Back) came up with an idea where he would make a movie in which he would not meet a majority of his actors because of lockdowns, but find a way to still to make it happen. Those same actors would be the ones in charge of operating their own cameras, as well as everything before that, with very little outside help, which alone would justify checking something like this out.

The Same Storm is an adventurous film, which takes on a La Ronde like structure, in which vignettes involving two or three characters in a story lead to the next story with a new character. This story begins with a woman (Norma Dumezweni), who after finishing an on-line yoga class and is waiting for a phone call regarding her sick husband. The call is not what she expected as a male nurse (Raúl Castillo) speaks to her telling her things have gotten worse. That calls leads to that male nurse calling a sex worker (Mary-Louise Parker) to help relieve that stress that he has accumulated from his job, but instead turns into a counseling session. The next episode is Parker’s character talking to her older mother (brilliantly played by Elaine May in her first film in 21 years). All the pieces involve people longing for connection. You would think with its limitations The Same Storm would run into some problems, but it somehow transcends its limits into something that is truly moving. While the story might be enough, the ensemble cast really shines, all whom worked from inside their own homes, even choosing how they dress and all the other things that most films have many departments for. All of the sequences have moments worth something, but for me a couple really left me speechless. One that involves Sandra Oh playing a mother whose concern about her son (Jin Ha) leads to an outcome that will just plain floor you. The other is one involving real-life partners Ron Livingston and Rosemary DeWitt and some concerns with their son’s poor scores on his assignments on a conference call with their son’s teacher (Allison Pill), who isn’t as responsive as DeWitt would like.

All of the vignettes have something to offer and most of them are really good, with maybe one exception that seems like it didn’t really need to be there. While Hedge’s film can sometimes be messy and awkward it comes together in the end as you really come to care about the lives of the people you see. I think it is because we see representation in those people and have some relatability in if not one but maybe multiple narratives. What The Same Storm ultimately does is leave one provoked and moved and impressed at what was pulled off technically, all while some of us still live in the nightmare.

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