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movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson

A Picture of You movie review: family secrets

A Picture of You yellow light

There’s nothing forced or sentimental here, and more than a modicum of bleak humor, but as laid-back indies go, this one may be a tad too laid-back.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Siblings Jen (Jo Mei) and Kyle (Andrew Pang) haven’t been the best of friends, but now they’re forced into uncomfortable close proximity during a weekend retreat from New York City to rural Pennsylvania to pack up their mother’s house after her recent death. There’s a lovely effortlessness with which director J.P. Chan — Mei cowrote the film with him — eases us into the siblings’ awkward relationship and the poignance of their task: there’s nothing forced or sentimental here, and more than a modicum of grief-induced humor as they make a discovery among her belongings about their mom (Jodi Long in brief flashbacks) that surprises them, though it probably shouldn’t. As laid-back indies go, this one may be a tad too laid-back: its meandering is a bit trying; this may have worked better as a short. (Chan’s previous films have all been shorts — this is his feature debut.) Still, its bald but never cloying sincerity and smart, crisp performances — Mei is a treat, and I want to see more of her — make it worth your time.

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A Picture of You (2014)
US/Can release: Jun 20 2014

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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  • RogerBW

    Being too meandering because one’s really impressed with having made a film at all, and every frame is sacred, is a classic rookie-director error. Still, I’ll give it a look.

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