In the first five minutes of Krisha — director Trey Edward Shults’ first feature — it becomes clear the film is eerily real. The moment the titular character Krisha (played by Krisha Fairchild, who is also Shults’ aunt) walks into her family’s home for Thanksgiving, there’s a sense of reality so nuanced it’s hard to place what makes it so authentic. This reality, in part, comes from the fact that Shults cast his family in the movie to depict a personal story they all lived through — that being the challenge of maintaining a harmonious familial relationship with an addict.
As the movie continues, the anger, frustration, and disasters that come with living with an addict all come to the fore. And for anyone who has experienced this themselves, it’s a terrifyingly real experience to watch, one that’s emotionally disturbing yet beautiful, thanks to Shults’ cinematic handling of the material. Most families who suffer from a fraught relationship with an addict, or are the addict themselves, keep this problem a secret, one not even discussed amongst the family. Shults’ and Fairchild’s family not only outs themselves, but puts the issue on public display.
We met with Shults and Fairchild to talk about the death of their cousin and niece, respectively, who inspired the film, and the challenges of filming something so true to life.