Directed by Andrew Dosunmu
Andrew Dosunmu’s focused yet pessimistic drama “Where Is Kyra?” marks the return of Michelle Pfeiffer to the big screen. Embracing a demanding role and dominating the scenes with a distinctive gravitas, she plays the title character, an unemployed middle-aged divorcee living in Brooklyn, who takes care of her elderly mother (Suzanne Shepherd). The camera silently lurks into the rooms with a compassionate passivity, capturing desolated facial expressions and silhouettes with predominantly dark tonalities. The tactic serves to highlight the depressive moods, yet love and affection are detected in the plausible story co-written by Dosunmu and Darci Picoult (“Mother of George”).
Even with the job interviews oscillating between disastrous and inconsequent, Kyra seems unpreoccupied because she receives her mother’s pension monthly. Nonetheless, she suddenly falls into a downward spiral of bad luck after her mother’s passing. The impossibility of cashing the checks from then on hauls her into a new inconceivable situation. Facing the tough reality of eviction and poverty, the desperate Kyra embarks on a dishonest scheme. The only thing she needs to succeed is to disguise herself as her mother and play her part at the bank.
Meanwhile, at a local bar, she engages in casual conversation with Doug (Kiefer Sutherland), a solitary cab driver who knows her mother well and how much effort she has been putting on taking a good care of her. Both need a strong drink to cope with their lives, and after a few shots, they end up having sex. Will he be able to help her, even disagreeing with her fraudulent methods?
This reflection on economic deterioration holds a constant sense of desperation, yet never shaping into a true emotional commotion. Humiliation and shame are stabbing, and this is strongly felt when Kyra is forced to ask her ex-husband for financial help.
Dosunmu seems self-satisfied in securing the gloomy spirits, never excelling in fighting lethargy. Hence, “Where Is Kyra?” remains melancholically low-key from start to finish, failing to deliver in crucial moments, including its climax.
While Pfeiffer and Sutherland show raw and intact acting capabilities, the dramatic side of the story decreases with time, becoming plodding and monotonous. Tenaciously pronounced is Philip Miller’s score, whose jarring sounds were able to create tension galore.