‘Raymond and Ray’ Was An Unexpected Family Therapy Session

So here’s a weird thing that happened: I am still at the Toronto International Film Festival as I type this. (It’s great being back after the last two years covering it remotely. I am having a nice time, but I’m also tired and ready to go home.) Anyway, I had an open window in my schedule so I decided to take a chance on a movie called Raymond and Ray. I knew absolutely nothing about it other than it is directed by Rodrigo Garcia and it stars Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke as the aforementioned Raymond and Ray. And from the photo I assumed it was about two buddies who are up to something.

So, the plot of this movie is Raymond and Ray are half brothers who share both a father and share the same name. When their father dies, a man they both hate, Raymond has to convince Ray to also go to the funeral. Once they get there, a lot more secrets about their family and past are revealed.

A lesson learned from all this, I think, from now on, is I’m going to start reading the descriptions of movies before I see them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this movie quite a bit but, if I had known the plot, there is not a chance I’d ever see this movie. Once the plot dawned on me, I mumbled out loud to myself, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”

So here is a fun, quick fact about me: In 2018, a year after my father died, I found out my dad had a son before I was born. And he and I also share the same name. To this day we have never met and he doesn’t seem too interested in doing that. So, I do what I normally do with stressful situations: I take all those emotions that hurt and I squeeze them up as tight as I can and bury them deep inside me, waiting for them to explode out in a cascade of tears once or twice a year. So far it’s not a terrible system. But my goal is to not think about it, which as you may have noticed isn’t working too well right this second. Anyway, my point is I think I might be the target demographic for this movie.

Actually, I found this movie therapeutic. Raymond and Ray have a somewhat healthy relationship, at least with each other. They do not have a healthy relationship with the memories of their father, who, throughout this movie, still seems to be haunting them with new information and stupid tasks like making the brothers dig his grave. I found all this aspirational. See, here are two brothers with the same name who are nothing alike, but seem to like each other and can only solve their issues with their father by talking it out with each other. So, yes, this movie hit me in a way that it’s probably not going to hit you. But if you find yourself thinking the notion of two half brothers with the same name existing … I am here to tell you that this is a thing.

And both McGregor and Hawke seem to be having a nice time with each other. Part road trip movie, part “watch these two knuckleheads do wacky things because of their anger and grief,” they contemplate each other well, to the point I hope they make more movies together. (Having said all those nice things, now some report will come out, “McGregor and Hawke clashed on set and hate each other.”)

I’m glad I saw this movie. It was fate. It was fate I had an opening in my schedule and this was playing at just the right time, and it’s a movie about a situation that maybe only I can relate with and also one I go out of my way to think about. But the way this movie made me think about it was a pleasant one. It felt hopeful in some weird way. It kind of showed me a glimpse of my best-case scenario with this kind of crap hand both of us were dealt. And, strangely, now that there’s a whole movie about this particular situation, it makes it all seem less weird.

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