Family reunions are not always joyous occasions. Throw in your dead mother’s ashes, an unexpected husband and a broken down fridge, and things just go from bad to worse. I Miss the War shows three sisters meeting up nine years after their mother’s death, and predictable tensions ensue as the awkwardness unfolds.
If this film aims to capture the excruciating atmosphere of horrendous family dinners, it certainly succeeds. Surprise step-brother Adrian, played by James Barr, is wonderfully irritating as the patronising Gap Yah guru, and Charlotte makes for a suitable frosty sister. Nonetheless, a dull script and unconvincing acting isolate these triumphant moments.
It is difficult to muster much feeling for any of the characters, as they are so thinly sketched, and the basic plot line of grieving siblings is so well travelled (see The Darjeeling Limited [Wes Anderson, USA, 2007] or Despite Everything [Gabriela Tagliavini, Spain, 2019] to name a few), that in order to make it worthwhile re-exploring, the film ought to do something different with it. I Miss the War touches on the interesting racial tensions between Adrian and Ray, but this subject remains largely unexamined and again falls victim to the limp script and amateur acting.
The short ends on a balance of delight and disaster with a new job gained while the mother’s ashes lie spilt in the bath. Although the film does reach some kind of climax with Charlotte’s unlocked anger, Ray’s confrontation of Adrian and Annie’s overdue success, all these stories are too underdeveloped to really make an impact. Although testing family relations are often a gift to cinematic plots, it may be better to keep this subject on hold until a better story comes along.
'I Miss the War' was a film in consideration for SHort Focus Film Festival 2019.