Film: "This Is Where I Leave You"; Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Abigail Spencer, Corey Stoll, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hahn, Dax Shepard; Director: Shawn Levy; Rating: ** 1/2
"This Is Where I Leave You" is a simple, yet complex film dealing with the catharsis of an obnoxiously dysfunctional Jewish family where "anything can happen and anything happens all the time."
Packed with infatuations, infidelities and break-ups, this is a relationship film, in which emotions are purged at crazy intervals and ends in a very unconventional manner.
The film opens with Judd Altman walking out of his marriage and his job at a radio station after catching his wife in bed with his boss. Totally disheartened, dazed and down in the dumps, he is informed about his father's death and is summoned home for the funeral.
After the funeral, Judd and his three siblings -- Wendy, Paul and Phillip and the rest of the family are forced by their mother Hilary Altman to observe Shiva, the Jewish seven-day period of mourning. This was the dead patriarch's last wish, they are informed. So, the family begrudgingly decides to honour this request.
Gradually it's here that the catharsis, as well as awkward inter-personal issues unfold.
The script written by Jonathan Tropper based on his best selling novel of the same name, gives equal footage to every character. Hence it is a challenge to empathise with any one character and often the situations are so clichÃ©d that you feel like you've seen it before. The dialogues are ordinary and crass.
Jason Bateman as Judd Altman is a likeable. Tina Fey, Corey Stoll and Adam Driver as Wendy, Paul and Phillip are flimsy characters with their own share of idiosyncrasies.
Tina as the over protective sister Wendy, Corey as the authoritative older brother Paul and Adam Driver as the pampered irresponsible youngest sibling Phillip, are remarkable.
Together the four of them bond and their on-screen chemistry is palpable.
Jane Fonda as their mother is over the top. She excels as the matter-of-fact, blunt and crude matriarch Hilary Altman. Her character is far divorced from reality.
Abigail Spencer as Judd's wife, Rose Byrne as Penny the skating instructor who once had a crush on Judd and in now his love interest along with Kathryn Hahn as Annie- Judd's ex-girlfriend and now Paul's wife who is trying hard to conceive a baby - and Dax Shepard as Judd's ex-boss, all have their moments of glory in the film.
And yet, there are not many, strewn moments that work their magic and offer significant nuggets of truth. In fact, they are few and far between.
Overall, the film reflects through one of Judd's dialogue - "life is not perfect. It should be irrational, complicated and emotionally inept," and director Shawn Levy succeeds in packaging the flaws, albeit not perfectly.