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Audrey Film Review: Misguided Comedy

A woman in a car holds up a sign that reads "P" in the film Audrey

Though the cast of Audrey does all it can with the material, the film’s eccentric plot and misguided screenplay result in a messy narrative.

Comedy films are always a bit of a gamble due to how subjective the material can be. What might be a hilarious feature to one viewer could be a complete blunder to another. This is why comedy films don’t tend to rank at the top of my watchlist. Like many, my comedic taste is a specific type of humor, and if that isn’t part of a comedy film’s formula, the humor won’t land. That said, when I stumbled across Audrey in SXSW’s lineup, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by its outlandish premise.

The story centers around Ronnie (Jackie van Beek), who had to give up her dream acting career as a young adult after falling pregnant with her eldest daughter, Audrey (Josephine Blazier). Since then, Ronnie has grown resentful of her daughter and yearns for the life she once had. On top of that, the suburban mother is in a sexless marriage and has become stuck in a rut. However, when Audrey has a terrible accident and enters a coma, Ronnie feels free to live her life again, all while consuming Audrey’s identity.

Though Audrey is an intentionally over-the-top dark comedy, the film is a complete misfire. Each character is highly unlikeable, and none of them have any redeeming qualities. I know that’s the point, as the feature leans into the absurdity of the family’s dysfunctionality. Still, it’s hard to connect with any of the characters and become invested in their story. In addition,each one of them makes irrational decisions that are entirely unrealistic.

After Audrey goes into a coma, none of her family members appear remotely upset by the incident. At one point, Audrey’s father does have an emotional response to his daughter’s accident, but a revelation later in the film completely diminishes his earlier upset.

Two girls have breakfast in the film Audrey
Audrey (Bankside Films / SXSW 2024)

The film’s central theme is Ronnie’s resentment toward Audrey, but we later learn that both of her parents hope she never wakes up from her coma and that life is better without her. In addition, while Audrey is in her coma, her boyfriend hooks up with her younger sister, Norah (Hannah Diviney), just because she isn’t around anymore. At this point, the film completely lost me. Audrey’s lack of humanity leaves the feature feeling hollow and mean-spirited just for the sake of it.

Another issue is that Audrey’s plot points fail to blend with the film’s main theme. The result is a string of random ideas that feel like an afterthought and lack a bigger purpose in the story. An extramarital affair takes place outside of Cormack (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) and Ronnie’s relationship. This reignites Cormack’s sex drive and his desire for his wife.

However, we aren’t given much insight into the issues surrounding their marriage and what led to him desiring another in the first place. We see random sex scenes between the pair that abruptly appear out of nowhere, and viewers later learn that the couple agreed on an open relationship. Another partner is fair game so long as they communicate with one another about other people they wish to date. I am far from a prude, but all these elements woven into the storyline are completely out of place and have no context. And just when you think things can’t get any more ludicrous, they do. In fact, by the film’s end, the narrative ventures into full-blown cartoon territory.

To give credit where it’s due, Audrey’s cast all give good performances, particularly Jackie van Beek. Ronnie is extremely unpleasant, which is a testament to the actresses’ acting chops. The talent involved in the project does all they can to elevate the material, but ultimately, a messy, misguided screenplay lets them down. I really wanted to love Audrey, but after my viewing experience, I concluded that the feature’s eccentric approach to comedy, unlikable characters, and disorderly structure just isn’t my cup of tea.

Audrey will be screened at SXSW on March 10-15, 2024. Read our SXSW reviews and our list of films to watch at SXSW 2024!

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