Tribeca 2022: Allswell Movie Review

A scene from director Ben Snyder’s comedy-drama ‘Allswell’.

Everything is fine

Tribeca Festival American Storytelling Competition

Reviewed for by Abe Friedtanzer

Director: Ben Snyder

Screenplay: Ben Snyder, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Cast: Elizabeth Rodriguez, Liza Colon-Zayas, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Felix Solis, Max Casella, Michael Rispoli, Shyrley Rodriguez, MacKenzie Lansing and J. Cameron Barnett

Screening at: Critics’ link, NY, 4/16/22

Opening: June 13e2022

The decision to become a parent is not a decision people take lightly, and there can be a number of factors involved that affect the timing and even the possibility of it. For some, getting married and having babies is part of the life plan, and they are lucky enough to be able to find the right person and get pregnant without any problem. Others yearn for it but are unable to fulfill it and must consider other options, including IVF, surrogacy, adoption, single parenthood, or the ultimate conclusion of having no children of the everything. And some have no desire to bring this world to life and shape it, but everyone is someone’s child and brings their own family experiences to their vision of how they should shape their legacy.

Everything is fine centers on three women, Daisy (Elizabeth Rodriguez), her sister Ida (Liza Colon-Zayas) and her sister-in-law Serene (Daphne Rubin-Vega). Daisy, who spends her days running a restaurant, is extremely excited about the arrival of her surrogate, who is moving into her home during her final weeks of pregnancy so they can prepare for the baby together. Ida, a counselor at a clinic, finds herself sucked into the problems of her brother, who has been gone for a long time. Serene, a former pop star and current vocal coach, enters her daughter’s life to keep her from going down a dangerous path she can’t see is all but guaranteed to end well.

It’s a film about women and how they move through the world, and how burdens are often placed on them that they didn’t ask for but have to interact with. It’s all about their family relationships and how they grew up understanding the meaning of parents, siblings, and children. Daisy is so attached to what she believes is coming soon and can’t imagine how it won’t work out, while Serene sees herself in her daughter and wants to stop her from making the same mistakes. Ida has already seen what happens in adulthood with her brother, but feels a responsibility to be there for him because she knows she may be able to provide what he needs at that time.

In the center of Everything is fine is a trio of superb performances, led by the always excellent Rodriguez, who also serves as co-writer with director Ben Snyder. Each of these roles feels lived in, and the larger context of how the family works and has worked is filled in over the course of the film by how they relate to each other. There are many things that could be better and things they could say to each other, but they still have a bond that cannot be broken by time or even disastrous and seemingly unforgivable actions. It’s just a snapshot of a brief moment in their adult lives, but it’s extremely compelling.

There is also an element of Everything is fine which speaks to their heritage and where they live, channeling their Puerto Rican roots and New York surroundings to add to the richness of their personalities. Neither defines them, but both absolutely contribute to who they are, and it makes the film more accessible to those who have their own cultural ties that make them feel separate from the rest of the world while still being adopted by a population of people they have never met and who share the same values. That stands out as a message from this film: the universality of unique and particular experiences, something that everyone should be able to stop and recognize as a binding factor between even the most seemingly disparate perspectives.

95 minutes

History – B+

Interim – B+

Technical – B+

Overall – B+

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