The Goldberg’s Wendy McLendon-Covey leads this film, impressively conveying the slow destruction of an OCD sufferer and her seemingly perfect life, alongside her husband and teenage daughter. Blush premiered at Sundance Film Festival, with an original title of “Imaginary Order” – reflecting the underlying theme of psychology throughout the narrative. Cathy’s (McLendon-Covey) carefully constructed life begins to unravel when she cat-sits for her sister and befriends the neighbouring family in an attempt to help them. This honest, and boundary-pushing film does not shy away from taboo topics.
From the opening sequence, a seed is planted in the viewer’s mind that Cathy is somewhat unhappy… and definitely bored. She appears putting on make-up methodically, glancing displeasingly at her husband beside her, going about her day in a repetitive routine; this is clearly not a loving marriage, and clearly not (as it appears) a “perfect” suburban life. As the narrative unravels, it is clear that her obsessive habits, which at first seem organised and arguably enviable, are severely compulsive and a way to control her uninspiring life. Reflective of American Beauty (1999) at times, this film definitely explores similar themes of the American dream, and the image of perfection and happiness, rather than the real thing.
An unexpected friendship arises when Cathy becomes nosily entranced by the neighbouring family – Gemma Jean (Christine Woods), her husband (Paul, played by Graham Sibley), and messy teenage son, Xander (Max Burkholder). The two could not be more different, but an unlikely (and turbulent) friendship begins, mainly outlining the lack of excitement and risk Cathy has in her mundane, suburban life. This seems like the perfect chance for Cathy to revamp her “housewife” lifestyle, and to step outside of the lines, but alas it only ends ultimately negatively. Each person she comes into contact with, predominantly the family next door, sends her life further and further down a path of unexpected decay and destruction. Cathy’s life spirals from one bad decision and consequence to another, leaving her wounded (literally at times) and feeling worse about herself than before she stepped out of her box-size comfort zone.
McLendon-Covey’s performance as the unfortunate, but likeable protagonist, is quite remarkable and beats her renowned role as Mrs. Goldberg in the US sitcom – as she showcases all sides of her acting talent, whilst creating a complex character who tackles all sorts of themes and experiences with great tenacity. The emotional rollercoaster that she takes us on is thrilling, but only because she is driving the narrative, and makes the mundanity of her life still captivating to the viewer; she continuously keeps us wanting more.
Despite the top-tier performances displayed, this film did not give the audience the closure needed to create a satisfying ending. An enjoyable watch, with a tantalising storyline, and so much potential. Eisenstadt does a great job of dealing with interesting and shocking themes and ideas, whilst retaining a slightly comic edge and realistic depiction of family life – obviously with added crazy twists and turns.
Dir: Debra Eisenstadt
Prd: Timur Bekbosunov, Johnny Chang, Debra Eisenstadt, Cosmos Kiindarius, Emma Lee, Peter Wong
Scr: Debra Eisenstadt
Cast: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Steve Little, Kate Alberts, Max Burkholder, Christine Woods, Graham Sibley, Catherine Curtin
DOP: Frank Tymezuk
Music: Mel Elias
Running time: 101 minutes
Blush is available to watch on digital from 22nd February.