In her feature debut, director Jen McGowan displays the unhurried, naturalistic instincts of Nicole Holofcener or Alexander Payne. Her portrait of suburbia is sterile without being sneering, and she finds bursts of humor and pathos in quiet moments.
This modest, finely acted movie avoids the usual detours that are the bane of films about disabled youth… Most important, the performances of Ms. Lewis and Mr. Weston crackle with authenticity. Like a good punk-rock song, this bracingly honest, tough-minded vignette stays true to itself.
So few American movies are written and directed by women that when one comes along it’s a reason to sit up and take notice. “Kelly & Cal” though, marks the feature debut of a filmmaker whose work deserves much more than special attention.
The debut feature from Jen McGowan, feels like a tiny little miracle. Here’s a slice-of-life film that hits almost every beat just right. Sensitive, funny, and true, “Kelly & Cal” is easily one of the best independent films of the year.
It’s McGowan’s first feature film but she’s surely someone worth paying attention to, and apparently we’re not the only ones with that thought process. She’s won the Gamechanger Emergent Woman Director Award - previously won by Lena Dunham for Tiny Furniture.
“Kelly & Cal” ranks among the more honest films about adulthood, much less parenthood, made in recent years.
An impressive feature debut with this warmly observed tale of two outcasts bonding in stifling suburbia, featuring an inspired match up of veteran Juliette Lewis and newcomer Jonny Weston.