A Yearly Retreat Brings Together Stereotypes in Among Ravens


Among Ravens wants to be the The Big Chill with Gen-X assholes, a weird ambition.

It’s the kind of film in which the setup is conveyed via a pre-dinner toast and couples pick fights at the table. Directed by Russell Friedenberg and Randy Redroad with the nuanced staging of little kids pushing the heads of dolls together (“Now, you two kiss!”), the film concerns an annoying group of obvious, badly written stereotypes that meets for an annual lake-house douche huddle. To wit: There’s a male life coach assembled from 1990s Burning Man clichés, who looks like Buddy Hackett with Jackson Galaxy sideburns, beaded chokers, and a fucking ukulele. (“You just gotta keep it real,” he says, in lieu of life advice.)

Saul (co-director Friedenberg) is a Rasputin-resembling, best-selling author who pays an assistant to write all of his books. Ellis is a white-suited, trust-fund layabout whose entitlement and background are established via a Panama hat and an honest-to-God ascot. Seriously.

Presumably, the cutting-room floor has footage of an Eskimo holding a harpoon and a reporter with a press card in his fedora band. The film’s women are emotionally withholding, coldly emasculating the men while numbing their unsourced pain with enormous glasses of white zinfandel.

Chad, a nature documentarian on the autism spectrum, is the only non-hateful character; he’s played with unartful and uninspired physical affectations by Will McCormack, apparently intended to be a holy fool who draws out the other characters’ inner truths, which they do not contain.

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