A truly fantastic cast—Oscar winner Hilary Swank, the legendary Blythe Danner, Oscar nominee Michael Shannon and Oscar nominee Robert Forster—have helped make debuting director Elizabeth Chomko’s WHAT THEY HAD one of the most praised films of the year. And though the topic can be tough, Chomko’s approach, using “a great deal of humor” (Variety) makes WHAT THEY HAD both moving and truly entertaining.
“An early shot in WHAT THEY HAD captures an Alzheimer’s-afflicted woman (portrayed gracefully by Blythe Danner) gone astray in a nighttime blizzard – a beautifully framed metaphor for her condition. Here’s the thing with Elizabeth Chomko’s poignant debut feature, though: It’s not only the gently addled mother who is confused and adrift. Her family members around her are too, perhaps even more so. Her husband (played by the underappreciated Robert Forster) refuses to concede that her condition is serious. He can’t conceive of being without her. An excellent cast (including Michael Shannon and Hillary Swank) hit the right notes in an evenly wrought family drama that rings true” —Toronto Globe and Mail. R. 101 Min.