New Flicks: Chosen Family

Photo courtesy of VMI Worldwide and Verdi Productions
FAMILY FOIBLES: Ann (Heather Graham, left) must contend with her drug addict sister, Clio (Julia Stiles), and her religious zealot father, Alfred (Michael Gross), in Chosen Family, screening as part of the SLO International Film Festival on April 27.

Writer-director Heather Graham (Half Magic) helms the very funny new dramedy Chosen Family, about Ann (Graham), a yoga instructor with bad luck in love and with an impossibly difficult family that makes unreasonable demands on her. Ann’s problem is she doesn’t know how to say “no,” and she allows her family—guilt-trip queen mom, Dorothy (a hilarious Julie Halston); religious zealot father, Alfred (Michael Gross); and self-destructive sister, Clio (Julia Stiles, as intense as ever)—to walk all over her.

Luckily, Ann has surrounded herself with her “chosen family”—Max (deadpan king Thomas Lennon), Roz (Andrea Savage), and Frances (Odessa Rae)—but will they be enough to see her through the travails ahead as she takes up with a new guy, Steve (John Brotherton), who may finally be Mr. Right after Ann’s long string of Mr. Wrongs? The problem is Lilly (Ella Grace Helton), Steve’s precocious and hyper-jealous daughter.

Beautifully shot in Rhode Island, the film chronicles Ann’s journey from doormat to dominance as she learns to draw boundaries and shape a meaningful life for herself. Well-acted, with a tight script and an ending that’s both realistic and hopeful, it’s a woman’s story that will appeal to rom-com fans of all genders. (88 min.) 

—Glen Starkey

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