Writer/director Saila Kariat’s overwrought family drama The Valley hovers in the liminal space between a Lifetime weepy and a Cymbalta commercial as it follows a self-centered Silicon Valley father straining to find answers in the wake of his daughter’s suicide. Patriarch and tech entrepreneur Neal (Alyy Khan) is on the cusp of something big, having caught the attention of the “Facenote” team, but he’s still reeling after his daughter Maya’s death. His wife Roopa (Suchitra Pillai) retreats into herself, his other daughter Monica (Salma Khan) lets work take over, and their live-in housekeeper Didi can barely suppress her rage that no one could foresee the tragedy on the horizon. So Neal embarks on an emotional journey to Maya’s college to elucidate his biggest question: Why?
In her feature debut, Kariat has touched upon important themes — the immigrant experience, ageism in tech, the performance of traditional family roles, and the toll of depression — but the way she has combined them too often feels slapdash. When the family members finally work their way through the stages of grief, Maya seems doomed to forever be an afterthought.
Written and directed by Saila Kariat
Opens June 8, Cinema Village