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TIFF Review: ‘What They Had’

September 12, 2018Britany Murphy

The last thing any family wants to deal with is the disappearance of a loved one. But this is exactly what Burt, Nick and Bridget go through as soon as the family matriarch, Ruth, wanders out in a snowstorm on Christmas Eve.

Suffering from Alzheimer's, Ruth's (Blythe Danner) family is doing their best to cope and keep things as normal as possible, as her disease progresses. Burt (Robert Forster) knows he is losing parts of his wife and they will not come back, however he is not ready to give up on her — even when their son, Nick (Michael Shannon), insists that she be moved to a nursing home. Meanwhile, as Burt and Nick stand firm on opposite sides of the argument, Bridget (Hilary Swank) tries to act as the peacekeeper, much to the chagrin of her brother.

Written and directed by Elizabeth Chomko, What They Had is an emotional and moving portrait of what it means to be a family. Many things can divide us, but the film compellingly reveals that though there isn't always a right answer, the bond between family is not often broken.

What They Had makes its international premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 41 min.

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