Toronto International Film Festival review – ‘Raymond and Ray’ is an entertaining and worthwhile story of brotherhood


A sibling is a relative with whom a person can have a number of different relationships. If the children are close in age, they can grow up together and remain friendly and close into adulthood. Living in a home of discord or divorce can also create a strong bond, although it can also lead to trauma that makes being together too painful due to the memories brought up. The death of a parent is a milestone that can force siblings to reunite, which can be good or bad depending on how they feel about each other at the time. Raymond and Rathere entertainingly presents a particularly complicated case of brotherly love.

Courtesy of TIFF

Raymond (Ewan McGregor) shows up at his half-brother Ray (Ethan Hawke) to tell him that the father they hated so much is dead. He made specific demands about what his sons should do as part of his funeral, and each of them comes with layers of baggage that bring up the angry feelings of his adult sons. As they navigate their relationship with a man who has caused them mostly misery, they meet a number of people who knew him as someone very different, such as Lucia (Maribel Verdu), his former girlfriend turned roommate and landlord, Kiera (Sophie Okonedo), her nurse, and an eccentric priest (Vondie Curtis Hall) who is about to conduct the funeral.

The title of this film is the first hint of an atypical childhood for its protagonists, given that they essentially have the same name. They remember it as a deliberate act on their father’s part, which also confused him and others. The brothers remember the qualities of each of their mothers and find themselves confusing the attributes between them, only certain that their common husband has drained them of life. Lucia, who they first think is a housekeeper, has a whole different energy, aware of who the man she had was living in her house and more than comfortable with the arrangement they had. .

Raymond and Ray
Courtesy of TIFF

It’s fun to see McGregor and Hawke together in these roles. While McGregor has lately leaned into charismatic and sometimes wicked turns, as in Halston and Birds of prey, here he plays someone less confident, prone to defending his lifestyle as perfectly fine and nice when Ray pokes fun. Hawke is clearly having fun, portraying someone unfiltered who uses all his energy on fleeting connections, hilariously causing the receptionist at the funeral home to run after him to give him his phone number. Together, they’re highly entertaining, and their comedic banter turns nicely into powerful drama once they really start to unpack what they’ve been through.

In his description of the often startling stories that are told at funerals and the revelations that only come out after someone dies, Raymond and Ray borders on the ridiculous with a few of his curve balls. But he manages to stay focused, showing the complicated process of grieving as the brothers are forced to dig a grave themselves for a man who made them do many things that could have made them unhappy but also made them stronger. another way. This journey is light and at the same time full of pain, and McGregor and Hawke are very good at conveying these conflicting emotions. Verdu and Okonedo complement them well, with their characters each connecting with one of the brothers and managing to really see them. The comedy here works well, but it’s the few heartfelt dramatic moments that are the most memorable.

Grade: B+

Check out more articles from Abe Friedtanzer.

After its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Raymond and Ray will debut on Apple TV+ on October 21st.


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