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  • "What They Had" (2018 release; 98 min.) brings the story of a family dealing with Alzheimer's. As the movie opens, we see an older lady getting up in the middle of the night, getting dressed and leave the house while it's snowing hard. Some time later, her husband wakes up, and realizes that his wife Ruth, who has Alzheimer's, is gone. He calls his son Nicky to come help look. Nicky in turn calls his sister Bitty who lives in California. He asks her to come help with the situation, and Bitty along with her daughter Emma fly from California to Chicago. The next day Ruth is found, but it is clear this cannot go on. Or can it? At this point we're 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

    Couple of comments: this is the writing and directing debut of actress Elizabeth Chomko (who does not appear in the movie). Yes, another movie dealing with Alzheimer's. As someone who has deal with this horrible disease up close (my dad deal with extreme Alzheimer's at the end of his life), I am more often than not surprised how "off" these movies are. Take Julianne Moore's "Still Alice" (for which she won a Best Actress Oscar no less): I thought it was a pretty weak movie. In contrast, I was surprised how "on" Chomko has it. The movie focuses more with the fallout onto the family having to deal with Ruth, rather than Ruth dealing with the disease, and that is a smart tack. Along the way, the script also explores the tensions between Nicky and Bitty, between those two and their dad, and between Bitty and her 20 year old daughter Emma. THe movie benefits from a strong ensemble cast, led by Hillary Swank as Bitty and Michael Shannon as Nicky. Beware: this movie is mostly an emotional gut punch, particularly in the last half hour. This isn't the type of movie where you walk out of the theater and think "that was a jolly good time!"

    "What They Had" premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and it finally opened at my local art house theater here in Cincinnati. The Friday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great (about 10 people). I can't see playing in theaters very long. For that the movie is too downbeat. But hopefully this can find the wider audience it deserves when it becomes available on other platforms. If you have an interest in Alzheimer's, or simply want to see a good drama, I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater (if you still can), on VOD, or on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
  • This film isn't just about a disease, but a life well spent and a life well lived. The drama between your inner circle, the ups and downs and most importantly the commitment that is needed to see it all through.

    Such Grammy material, superb and beautiful acting by the main fast and the message itself is one to take to the heart. I highly recommend this film.
  • Terrific all-star cast here and a remarkable directorial and writing debut for Elizabeth Chomko. Difficult to watch at times, as the movie depicts the devastating effects of dementia, not only for the person affected but for their families as well.

    The dialogue here is incredibly realistic, the characters completely believable, and the interplay between them works exceptionally well. Somehow, Chomko manages to get in some well placed humor along the way.

    Overall, just a powerful and poignant drama and I might suggest keeping some tissues close by for the final 20 minutes of the film.
  • This disease affect directly or indirectly every person an planet earth. either you have it, or in your family,or in your neighbourhood or you work with them like i do, its like an everlasting earthquake to experience.this film tells a very well structured story about a woman with dementia, though not too seriously beaten yet, i guess on 15-25 on the mmst scale, about her loving husband and their children and grandchildren. reminisence are a keyword to the story, and it reminds me a lot of how it was when my dad and granddad went through a very fast development of the disease, and how responsibilities fell on the one living nearest and how that damaged a lot of our family dynamics. i shall admit that i was not the nearest to my dad neither in distance or true relations,and backed out rather quikly, but thats another story....

    what i miss in these kinda movies is the lack of fun, because there are actually a huge amount of comic situations when caring for my own, but especially when working with old demented persons. what i can say is that they are as different as fingerprints, there are no fasit whats correct,so there are many walls to smash your head against believe me.

    i like the acting ,its not overexhaggerated,just very truthfull. the music and filmography are very nice. the start sequence when mum walks away in the snow are just beautiful.

    i give it an eight,you may give a star too cause its recommended
  • Award worthy Film !! Especially Robert Forster as Burt. He practically steals all his scenes. Important and Touching Story
  • What I had (ha-ha), was some time to kill before going to a screening of Wildlife yesterday so I decided to squeeze this film in before the showing. Saw the trailer for this and it looked pretty standard but I'm always game for films that depict mental health and the impact it has on others. The film also boasts a really wonderful cast and I had to think that the film would at the very least halfway decent. Its more than decent, I actually had a good time with this. It mixes a bevy of emotions but hits exactly the right notes when it needs to.

    The film is about two children who come together with their mom and dad around the holidays. Their mom is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and its tough for her to remember her own children and her husband. The family have a lot of issues to resolve as they clash heads on what to do with their mother and their unspoken issues with their hard headed father. The film stars Hilary Swank, Robert Forster, Taissa Farmiga, Blythe Danner, and of course Michael Shannon in one of my favorite performances he's ever done.

    The film is actually hilarious in many parts, especially through Michael Shannon. He plays a dead pan sarcastic brother/uncle and his comments made my day. There's just a good deal of humor involving the characters despite the film being emotionally heavy as it deals with a disease that impacts a family so greatly. As expected, the talented cast is perfect in this film. Forster and Swank in particular really showcase their talents. Even Blythe Danner playing the mom; she's always so happy and cheery despite the fact that she can hardly remember anything.

    I think I'm most impressed by Elizabeth Chomko's script. It balances everything well. The script is simple but has a lot of heart and dimension to it. This isn't a film that's going to get a lot of buzz as it came out very limited, but I think its a very enjoyable effort. If you're a lover of film and have some time to kill, go for it. Its not an essential watch but go see the character and family dynamics on display here.

  • The performances from Swank, Shannon and Forster are phenomenal. Having grown up helping care for my Nan with the illness following the death of my grandad between 12 and 20 this film resonated grately with me and the effects it has on a family as a disease as well as the disease itself. I very rarely get emotional during films but couldn't help with this with many similarities to memories in real life particularly the scene at the wake. Whilst it doesn't show the most extreme final stages I don't think a film could have portrayed the effects of the illness of all involved in the family any better than this film does. It absolutely strikes the perfect balance whilst having enough drama to entertain. Not the happiest of watches but certainly a must watch in my eyes not just for the entertainment value which is certainly there but also educationally for those who don't realise the effects of the illness on the friends and family also.
  • ferguson-626 October 2018
    Greetings again from the darkness. "Til death do us part." Only far too often, long term marriages are not broken by death, but instead by memories being cruelly erased through disease. Alzheimer's and Dementia are dreadful diseases, even in the early stages. Writer-Director Elizabeth Chomko uses her feature film debut not to analyze the specifics of these diseases, but instead to focus on the incredibly personal and emotional fallout they produce.

    At first glance, Bridget (Hilary Swank) seems to have figured things out in life. She's a California career woman married to a successful man (Josh Lucas), and their daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga) is a college student. Slowly, the truth is unfurled - much of it after she receives a frantic call from her brother Nick (Michael Shannon) back home in Chicago. Their mother (Blythe Danner) is missing, having wandered out into a snow storm wearing her pajamas. Bridget and her daughter Emma hop on a plane and land in the middle of a huge family ordeal. See, Nick is exhausted from being the caregiver, and believes the best thing for their mother (and for him) is to move her into an extended care facility. Dad (Robert Forster) is adamant that she remain home with him, where she (and he) are most comfortable.

    Of course, the turmoil doesn't end there. Bridget is in a loveless marriage. Emma has been evicted from her dorm for drinking. Nick's long-time girlfriend has booted him to the backroom of the bar he owns. Bert, the father, is unwilling to accept or even discuss surrendering the life he's known for decades. Ruth, the mom, is as apt to make a move on her son as to remember her daughter's name. Contrasting personalities abound in this house. Despite having power of attorney, Bridget is still intimidated by her bullying father, and seems to have no empathy for the burden carried by Nick. It's all very messy - just like a real family, and filmmaker Chomko revels in it.

    It's so wonderful to see Robert Forster in such a hefty role. These days, he's typically relegated to a tertiary character where he mostly frowns and grunts. Not this time. He is at once a bullying force within the family, and an elderly man treading on fragile ground. He belittles his grown kids by calling his bar owner son a "bartender", and having coerced his daughter into marrying a man for security. Mr. Forster nails the role, as does Michael Shannon as his irksome son. Shannon is one of the best actors working today and he is mesmerizing with his snap backs - sometimes funny, sometimes mean, sometimes both.

    There is some horrible relationship advice served up. The family philosophy is "pick somebody you can stand, and make a commitment", as there's no such thing as "bells and whistles". It's not the romantic chatter most movies provide, but it plays to the complicated bond between parents and kids (of all ages). Director Chomko brilliantly and accurately handles the gut-wrenching effects of Alzheimer's. She embraces laughter as a coping mechanism, and reminds us to enjoy the rare moments of clarity - those times a parent can remember who you are. There are a few cringe-inducing moments of mushy melodrama, but for the most part, Ms. Chomko delivers.
  • This film is seriously underappreciated. It has something everyone can relate to,holding a mirror to the harsh reality we all face in our lives. Marital issuses, parenting, or the aging of those closest to us no one will finish the film with dry eyes. Despite the seemingly grim tone of the film, it is anything but! Elizabeth Chomko, first time writer and director, places comedy with an expert touch into the darkest parts of the plot allowing you a laugh through the tears. The perfect balance between humor and drama makes the film feel so realistic you'll think the dynamic family is your own. With such a star studded cast and multiple festival nominations, its almost immpossible to believe this is Chomko's debut film. Regardless, this film will stick with you and leave you itching for the next of Chomko's astounding writing/directoral masterpeices.
  • Critical events can bring a family closer together or tear them apart for good. As brother and sister have to deal with an important question regarding parent's health, they struggle with their own private lives. In a moment of crisis, there's no where to hide. We have stay true to ourselves and either move on with a misery, or stand up and do the right thing. What They Had is about that one family we all know. Could be our own even. The biggest achievement of this story is its characters. The believable chemistry between the actors forms a great family dynamic and showcases some great acting by Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon and the others. A film that is genuine, dramatic yet not too tragic, made with taste and surely will please any festival film lovers out there.
  • There have been a number of movies in which a problem in the family forces the whole brood to get together, but I think that Elizabeth Chomko's "What They Had" still bears watching. It focuses on a Chicago family whose mom has Alzheimer's. When her memory loss becomes a danger to her, the daughter (who has power of attorney) has to return from LA to help with things. She brings along her irresponsible daughter, complicating things. The family's son also complicates things.

    Every character is damaged in some way. In fact, the mom is the least damaged, despite her amnesia. The dad, daughter, son and granddaughter all have their problems to sort out amid this gathering, and it's not going to be that easy.

    The cast puts their all into the roles (not that I expected otherwise). The mom (Blythe Danner) wasn't as developed as I had hoped for, but the daughter (Hilary Swank) is shown to be a complex character. Michael Shannon continues his string of heavy-duty roles as the son. As for the dad (Robert Forster), he's the type who makes everyone feel as if they're walking on eggshells. Very much the opposite of a role model. Meanwhile, Taissa Farmiga confirms herself as one of the great upcoming actresses in the role of the granddaughter.

    All in all, a good one. I recommend it.
  • "The depth of our loss in directly proportionate to the depth of our love of life."

    There is nothing like a really solid story (film) about family and the appreciation of our memories and lives that we will all sadly witness dimming on an annual basis. It is inevitable, that we grow-up and move-on to places and times in our lives that can only be somewhat reminiscent, of what once was seemingly pure and happy. Unfortunately, that's life. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with the reality that as individuals, love and memories are very different from one another's expectations and experiences. Being the oldest of four, losing my father was devastating. I have never cried so deeply, in my entire life. Nothing affected my core so painfully that I couldn't breathe between my thoughts of not surviving the choking. My father was everything to me. My Baseball and Football Coach. My mentor and example of how to love others as a father, a husband, a brother and a friend. Life is so beautiful, that if we can't get past the egocentric walls we all put-up, that come in the form of self-confidence, or pride, we will all miss the ride. We are innocently mushy and wanton all at once. We have the will and the blueprint to create the greatest moments we could ever imagine. So let's do it. Let's live and love as deeply as possible, because it will go by so fast, that we'll only photos to survive us of what once was.

    Thank you for the tears of time and memories of my childhood.
  • The debut film of writer/director Elizabeth Chomko, partly based on her own experiences with her grandmother, What They Had depicts a family trying to deal with the horrors of Alzheimer's. Very much in the tradition of films such as Iris (2001), Away from Her (2006), and Still Alice (2014), What They Had attempts to avoid becoming too lachrymose by finding humour in the condition and focusing on how the family are ultimately brought together rather than torn apart. It's not perfect, of course, running a good ten minutes too long and straying into melodrama more than once, but for all that, it's still a fine film, with some fantastic writing, and a superb cast doing exceptionally truthful work.

    Set in Chicago, the film begins with Ruth (Blythe Danner) waking up in the middle of the night, putting on her shoes, and walking out into a blizzard. When her husband, Burt (a career-best performance from Robert Forster), awakens to find her gone, he calls their son, Nick (Michael Shannon), who in turns calls his sister, Bridget (Hilary Swank). Living in California, Bridget is in a loveless marriage to the nice but dull Eddie (Josh Lucas) and seems to be perpetually sparring with her daughter Emma (Taissa Farmiga), who may or may not have dropped out of college. With Emma in tow, Bridget flies to Chicago just in time to hear that Ruth has been found - riding the train to her childhood home, worried that her parents will be concerned as to why she is out so late. As the family take Ruth home, the film's central conflict becomes apparent; Nick wants to put her in a "memory centre", but Burt won't hear of it, insisting that no one could look after her as well as him. Nick called Bridget hoping she would back him up, as she has power of attorney. But, although she does agree with Nick that Ruth needs to be in a home, she is reluctant to go against Burt's wishes.

    Chomko uses Ruth's illness as a prism through which to examine a number of peripheral themes, not the least of which is how her condition opens up long-gestating fault lines between the various family members. Ruth isn't the central character, and her disease is not the focal point; this is a film about a family in crisis, a crisis precipitated by Ruth's illness, but fuelled by their own personal problems. Nick has sunk every penny he owns into a bar that isn't doing too well, and which Burt has never bothered to visit, whilst his long-time girlfriend has left him, fed up waiting for him to propose; Bridget finds herself increasingly dissatisfied with her career as a chef and her marriage to a man who was essentially chosen for her by Burt; Emma has been thrown out of her college dorm for drinking, and seems to have little to no interest in remaining in college; Burt disapproves of Nick's unmarried status, and belittles his son by referring to him as a bartender rather than a bar owner, whilst he believes Bridget's unhappiness stems from her lapsed Catholicism and the influences of the California environment. One of the strengths of Chomko's script is how she deals with the manifestation of these various problems, deftly handling the presentation of emotions, with the audience empathising first with one character and then another, with no one depicted as completely right or completely wrong.

    Another strong aspect of Chomko's script is how she is able to generate laughs from Ruth's condition. At one point, Ruth announces she's pregnant, and Burt tells Nick that in anticipation of the arrival, they've got out all his old baby things. In another scene, a solemn Nick tells Bridget that Ruth hit on him, but Bridget is unable to keep a straight face, and the two end up laughing hysterically. At church, when Emma informs Nick that Ruth has just drunk the holy water, he quips, "at least she's hydrated." When a telephone rings in the apartment, Ruth enters the room holding a stapler to her ear, complaining that she can't hear anything. None of these scenes feel disrespectful or exploitative, and in the case of Ruth hitting on Nick, Chomko actually returns to it later in the film in a key scene when Nick tells Burt about it, and for the first time, we see a chink in Burt's armour - for the first time he doesn't have an instant response, with Foster brilliantly portraying just how difficult Burt is finding it to process what he has just heard.

    Aesthetically, a great deal of the film takes place in Burt and Ruth's apartment, perhaps a by-product of Chomko's theatrical background. Cinematographer Roberto Schaefer shoots the interiors with a very warm colour palette that cools down considerably whenever the film moves to another location, setting up the apartment as the emotional heart of the story. There are also a couple of visual flourishes here and there. A really beautiful shot occurs right at the start; as Ruth walks away from the apartment into the snow, she slowly fades out, literally disappearing into the night. An especially noticeable visual motif is the use of photographs and old home movie footage, both of which feature predominantly throughout the film. Initially, I thought this was a fairly clichéd technique (how many heartfelt family dramas feature an opening with home movie footage depicting a happier time), but in the case of What They Had, it actually pays off beautifully in the final sequence. Chomko also features a number of scenes in which characters get bad news whilst in bed - subverting the notion of one's bed being a place of rest and security.

    In terms of the acting, given the cast, it should come as no surprise how universally impressive it is. As Ruth, Blythe Danner gives a pathos-rich lyrical performance in which she must react to everything without registering anything. The film's depiction of Ruth may be romanticised, but as a performance, Danner's work is flawless, as she switches from knowing she's a grown woman with grandchildren to believing she is a young girl still living with her parents. Foster plays Burt as a bully, albeit not a self-aware one; he has no idea how much ideological authority he wields over his children, or how afraid of him they are, or that Bridget feels he pushed her into a marriage she didn't want. One of the subtexts of the film is the long-term impact that having such an overbearing parent can have on a child, but the strength of the performance is that Burt is not a wantonly bad man; he thinks he has done right by his children, and he remains always charming. Despite his bravado and machoism, however, his most salient characteristic is his unwavering love for Ruth, who he still refers to as "my girl". A scene of them exchanging Christmas presents is as poignant a scene as you're likely to see all year, with his love and her quiet dignity intertwining to create probably the best scene in the film. Bridget is, by definition, a passive character for most of the film, but Swank gets a lot of mileage out of playing her inner struggles; she very much wants to assert herself, whether it be in her dealings with Nick, Burt, Emma, or Eddie, but something constantly holds her back. Shannon, whom we're used to seeing as a snarling monster, reminds us here of why he is considered such an acting powerhouse and how impressive he can be playing a more 'normal' character. Doing arguably his best work since Revolutionary Road (2008), he plays Nick as utterly exhausted with the burden of helping to look after Ruth without so much as a thank you from Burt. However, the irony at the heart of the performance is that Nick is turning into exactly the same kind of bully as Burt, something he doesn't seem to realise. And whilst Burt's soft centre is apparent in how he relates to Ruth, Nick's becomes clear insofar as what he wants more than anything is his father's approval.

    However, a number of factors hold the film back. Firstly, like most films about Alzheimer's, it depicts the condition as not quite as bad as it really is (Ruth never becomes violent, for example, as so many sufferers do), with the choices faced by the family far more binary and clear-cut than is so often the case. Chomko also makes a few directorial misjudgements. For example, the final scene features a truly bizarre bit of on-the-nose symbolism that at the screening I attended elicited laughter in what should have been the emotional apex of the story. Speaking of the end, there are about five scenes which could legitimately have served as the dénouement (all of which seemed to be wrapping things up), with the film running a good ten minutes too long, and missing a chance for a really powerful final impression, ending on a beautifully poignant comment by Ruth. Another problem is the subplot involving Emma's attitude towards college, which Chomko never manages to make feel like anything other than an insubstantial and unimportant tangent. There's also something of a discrepancy in the film's presentation of the family as emotionally repressed old-school Catholics, and the fact that they literally spend the entire film talking to each other about their feelings.

    These few issues aside though, this is an impressive debut. It's not the best Alzheimer's movie ever made (thus far, that is Away From Her), but it's a fine addition to the subgenre. Chomko elicits excellent performances from the central quartet and displays some nice visual touches as director. I didn't find it as emotional as I expected (or as emotional as it seems to think it is), but it's definitely a heartfelt film, and you could do much worse than to seek it out.
  • You'll laugh, you'll cry, this movie will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.
  • Fantastic writing and acting. I cried about five times. Cannot recommend enough.
  • Loved this powerful drama about life when someone you love has Alzheimer's. Great cast, beautifully directed. Great for all to see!
  • Msbnitski21 February 2019
    Having lived this life with my Mother, it hits close to home. My Mother was diagnosed with dementia back in 2008. This movie brings it all back. My Father was relatively healthy up till the end in 2010. My Mother on the other hand became lost in her own thoughts. Not knowing us kids and I would love to think she still recognized my Father. My Mother passed in November of 2010 and my Father in June of 2010. I remember my Dad saying that once my Mom went into the dementia/alzheimer care ward, he felt like it was as lonely as when he was in the Navy back during WWII. He never recovered and died broken hearted. This movie hits home. You can try to hold out. You can try to care for your loved one but, once the veil cover the mind, it's just sad beyond words. I talked more at my Mothers funeral than I could while she was alive. The disease just drains the individual and caretakers and devastates the loving people around them. Very sad movie. Having lived this it does strike a nerve and a lot more. I think the only take away is this, love the people around you and don't let go no matter how hard it gets.
  • What They Had is a movie that frightened me a little bit as I saw this happening with my grandfather, and as I'm starting to forget things myself. Alzeimer's disease isn't a pleasant thing, not for the patient but even lesser for his/her family and friends. Seeing somebody that you knew as smart suddenly forget all kind of elementary things isn't a pretty thing to witness. So this movie is touching for a lot of people as we all know somebody with that disease. The story is about how the whole family tries to cope in their way with the disease. The cast was very good, especially Michael Shannon as Nick. What They Had will bring some tears to a few people as they will remember or recognise situations from the movie, that will bring back memories from loved ones that died with Alzeimer's disease.
  • Moments of crisis can bring a family closer together but can just as easily rip them apart. In first-time director Elizabeth Chomko's What They Had, siblings Nicky (Michael Shannon, "The Shape of Water") and his sister Bridget Ertz (Hilary Swank, "Logan Lucky") walk a thin line between the two possibilities as they attempt to provide proper care for their elderly mother Ruth (Blythe Danner, "Hearts beat Loud"), a victim of Stage 6 Alzheimer's Disease. Set in Chicago, the film opens with vintage photographs and home movies of Ruth and husband Burt (Robert Forster, "Twin Peaks," TV series) in their youth. The next image we see is a bewildered Ruth getting out of bed in the middle of the night and walking out of her house into the abrasive cold, dressed only in her nightgown.

    Although he has been through this many times, a frantic Burt phones Nick to ask for help and alerts Bridget in California who flies to Chicago together with her college-age daughter, Emma (Taissa Farmiga, "The Nun") to assist in the search. After Ruth is finally located and brought to the hospital under observation, the family gathers around her to offer words of support. She effusively recognizes her children, giving them hugs and calling them "my babies," but refers to Burt as her "boyfriend," rather than her husband. The doctor recommends that Ruth be placed in a nursing home, euphemistically referred to as full-time "memory care," and also suggests that her husband live nearby in an assisted-living facility.

    Burt, however, has other ideas. Citing his commitment to Ruth and the vows he took at their wedding, he insists that she remain at home with him. In a powerful performance by Forster, he denies the full extent of his wife's incapacity and stubbornly maintains that all she needs is a trip to Florida to get her head straight. While his judgment in the matter is open to question, it is clear that he is coming from love and what he sees as support and Chomko fortunately does not turn him into a villain. Bridget tries to appease her father but Nick will have none of it. Although he is unafraid of confronting his dad and does so throughout the film, his fear of being like his father is, at least, a restraining influence.

    While the debate rages within the family over what is best for Ruth, Burt chides Nicky for not realizing that his girlfriend has lost patience while waiting for him to propose marriage and condescendingly calls him a "bartender" instead of a bar owner. Driven by her brother's confrontational style and his resentments over his belief that she was the favored child, Bridget slowly comes to grips with the fact that she only married her lackluster husband Eddie (Josh Lucas, "Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House") to win her father's approval and is now stuck in a relationship that is empty and unsatisfying. Another subplot involves Emma's reluctance to registering for classes and return to college for the coming semester.

    While emotional moments between mother and daughter surface, Emma's character remains undeveloped and the story line is simply dropped. Though What They Had does not deliver the emotional heft that it promises, outstanding performances uplift the film. Swank is effective in bringing the necessary vulnerability to her role without appearing to be self absorbed, and Shannon also gives one of his strongest performances as the belligerent son who does not hold back his verbal daggers pointed at whoever happens to be present. To her credit, Chomko lightens a grim situation with gentle humor. A deadly serious Nicky tells Bridget that his mother "hit on him" on their return from the hospital, a story to which Bridget can only respond with hearty laughter. Even a touch of humor of this kind is welcome to those who must deal with the heartbreak of seeing a loved one losing their grip on reality, day by painful day.
  • danhutt28 January 2019
    Saw the stellar cast in this and rented it . Wonderful script executed perfectly by all four leading actors. Covers a difficult subject with just the right amount of compassion and humor, which helps the characters deal with the challenge of aging . Recommend this film very much.Hope this film gets the credit it deserves.
  • emilie860513 January 2019
    Outstanding acting by the entire cast. I've laughed & I've cried and felt raw emotions with their charismatic performance. Hopefully a film to be nominated for 2019 Golden Globes/Oscars.
  • petera0010 January 2019
    Very good drama about getting old and having to deal with family situations. Definitely a great depiction of what is lost and what is gained from getting older.
  • And now it's been done again. What's new and different about this version? NOTHING.
  • pbnickels2 May 2019
    The Universe brought me this film on a flight from San Diego to Dallas on my way to visit my 90+ year old parents downstate Illinois. My Mother had been in the hospital, and my Dad requested my assistance. What a blessing to bring my Mother home the next day. She suffers from dementia. They too live in the same house and it is the issue for my Dad and brother who lives in town and usually cares for them. Superb acting from all, as expected. Chicago in winter spectacular. I was lucky. I needed this now, as would anyone in the similar situation.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The substance of this film is family dynamics and how they operate. As a theme, it is universally felt here, particularly in the aspirations of the children vis-a-vis the parents. And, multi-generationally. Great discussions and things that occur, along these lines. And I just loved seeing Hillary Swank and Michael Shannon act off one another. Blythe Danner and Robert Forster rounded out the accompaniment well for a good ensemble.

    What I felt could have been better, or done differently, was the type of shots taken, and the focus of the camera on the main players. It was good enough but.... I compare this film on family dynamics to the excellent French film on the same, The Summer Hours. That film was able to create a real sense of place that the family occupied; the season, the envieonment, everything. In contrast, I didn't get that same moment in time/place with What We Had. It fell on the players a lot more, and it felt just a little heavy on the message communicated, for that. Maybe it's the difference between a US movie and a European sensibility. And it's interesting to me that I slightly preferred the European film more.

    What We Had is an excellent movie that I liked though, because of its presentation of family dynamics. Very glad to have seen it!
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