Parents' Guide to

Where Is Kyra?

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Strong language, drinking in dark, heavy drama.

Movie R 2018 97 minutes
Where Is Kyra? Poster Image

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This dark drama effectively conveys the oppressive stress of Kyra's situation, but a pall hangs over the whole endeavor. Dosunmu and award-winning cinematographer Bradford Young (Arrival) tend to use camera setups that keep viewers at a distance. Subjects are shown down the hall, in another room, at the other end of the bar. Private rooms are underlit, and the characters exist in shadows. Takes are very long and static, offering little relief from the depressive air. Although Dosunmu generally creates an atmosphere that's permeated with emotion, sometimes his directorial hand feels distractingly heavy, as when loud, discordant music tells us something's wrong -- or in slow-motion scenes accompanied by string arrangements.

Pfeiffer seems to take some time to settle into the film -- though once in, she delivers one of her strongest performances. You feel how crushing the weight is upon Kyra as she hustles and scrambles. Kyra's bad decisions seem excusable thanks to the suffocating environment that Pfeiffer, Dosunmu, and screenwriter Darci Picoult generate. And Sutherland is a welcome presence. His work is right in the groove of the film. Where Is Kyra? looks at modern American poverty from an angle that's not usually seen on-screen, especially with big-name stars. This slow, weighty drama won't be for everyone, due to its pace and sometimes airless hopelessness, but for the willing, it's artfully realized.

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