Even though we were not sure from the beginning, we can clearly say it now: Ryan Barton-Grimley’s ‘Elijah’s Ashes’ may be one of the best comedies of 2016! At least in our competition! The characters are perfectly created, the soundtrack is neat and the overall trip is something we not only saw, but experienced one hundred percent.
The characters are extraordinarily created, their ying-yang personalities blend perfectly in the plot of a great comedy. To sum up the plot: two brothers, one of them, Lawrence, gay and slightly unaccepted by society and his lover, and the other one, his extremely homophobic brother Kevin are in a trip of burying the ashes of their late father Elijah. The journey is nothing someone would’ve expected and as the author says, in the end they try to answer the question: can you truly accept someone else when you can’t even accept yourself?
This plot reminded us of an old Balkan story that circulated in the 19th century through Eastern Europe and it was eventually written as an anecdote by Ion Luca Caragiale, a Romanian writer very popular in that period. The story is called Firstling Pastrami and it is about two brothers, one living in the Ottoman Empire and the other in Israel. When their Jewish father died, the one living in the Ottoman Empire took off his flesh, smoked it and sent it to Israel to be buried there. But on the way to Israel, the guy from the boat that was in charge of that package smelled the meat and started eating it and sharing it with the other crew members and passengers. The big difference being that in Ryan Barton Grimley’s movie, the whole trip is an initiatory experience for both of the brothers.
What we really appreciate in a movie is the bond between all the fields of creation: visuals, sound, and acting. In ‘Elijah’s Ashes’ the score is not spectacular, but it is exactly what it takes for this feature to be homogeneous.
For us it was a great surprise when we discovered such a gem between movies that are trying to be intelligent and cool but fail with great ease by focusing their attention on certain fields, neglecting the others. In this feature, Ryan Barton Grimley proved his great talent and skill with the help of an amazing cast. We only hope that this movie will receive the appreciation it really deserves.