Tag Archives: Krisha Fairchild

Once Upon a Time in the Northwest


by Matt Weiner

While the trendy seasonal debate is about what makes for a Christmas movie, Freeland—a taut, character-driven thriller written and directed by Mario Furloni and Kate McLean—offers a fresh spin on neo-westerns. (Pacific Northwesterns, in this case.)

Humboldt County pot farmer Devi “Dev” Adler (Krisha Fairchild) finds her longstanding operation (and serene way of life) thrown into an existential crisis, not by any shock-and-awe DEA raid but rather the slow bureaucratic death of refusing to comply with the new proper legal channels.

With the state cracking down on illicit growing operations, Dev is increasingly cut off from potential buyers both in and out of state. The changing business landscape also lays bare how emotionally removed she has become. Both her seasonal staff and her ex-lover Ray (John Craven) see the inevitable, even if Dev cannot: a way of life in the Northwest is coming to an end and a new one has already started to replace it.

Dev’s desperate slow burn fuels much of the tension, with Fairchild turning in yet another career-defining performance half a decade after 2015’s Krisha. Whether it’s reflecting with Ray on what they’ve lost since their commune days in the 1970s or shooting withering stares at the new generation of harvesters and corporate players, Fairchild brings an aching vulnerability to the no-nonsense Dev.

While much of the action is from Dev’s emotional breakdown, the directors also slow down long enough to take in the northwest vistas. It’s easy to see why Dev refuses to change her way of life, even as every piece of what that used to be gets stripped from her one by one.

It would be monstrous to argue that legalization isn’t a net good for incarceration and the drug war (and congrats to drugs on the recent wins).  But Freeland throws into intimate focus another side of the legalization vs. decriminalization debate, in which the biggest winners look suspiciously like the same forces that are always ahead in every aspect of American life.

Freeland swaps 19th-century railroads for 21st-century agribusiness, but you don’t need a player piano to hear the familiar requiem.

Family Plot


by George Wolf

Krisha is not only a powerful character study awash in piercing intimacy, it is a stunning feature debut for Trey Edward Shults, a young writer/director with seemingly dizzying potential.

And then there’s the startling turn from Krisha Fairchild, Shults’s real-life Aunt, who after decades of scattershot film and voice work, delivers a jaw-dropping lead performance full of such raw authenticity you begin to feel you are treading where you don’t belong.

That’s no accident. Shultz draws heavily on his own painful family history to bring the story of Krisha (Fairchild), who is attending a big Thanksgiving dinner after 10 long years of estrangement from her loved ones. Slowly, we’re introduced to other family members (some also played by Shults’s relatives) and learn that Krisha is a recovering addict who has done some very bad things.

She’s come to make amends, and most importantly, to try and salvage any chance of a relationship with her son (played by Shults himself).

Expanding his own short film from 2014, Shults is remarkably assured in constructing his narrative. Nothing is spoon fed, rather we grasp what we know about Krisha and her family through guarded conversations and quiet, private moments. From the awkwardness of forced holiday small talk to the inevitable request for the “techy” relative to fix a computer, the scene is unmistakably real. Then, as old wounds become new, the film strikes with a humanity so deeply felt we expect to see our own faces in those family albums left out on the table.

The direction is equally graceful.  Calling to mind recent work from Cuaron and Inarritu, Shults gently leads his camera away from character activity to linger on the surroundings, just long enough to call to mind the part they play in Krisha’s fragile psyche.

It is all an artful complement to Fairchild’s intense, blistering portrait of a woman quite literally under the influence. From the truly unnerving opening shot through the next 82 minutes, taking our eyes off of her is nearly unthinkable.

Krisha is a timely reminder what undiscovered talents can achieve despite their limitations of budget, cast or location.

Here’s hoping we discover these two again soon.