I've said it before and I'll say it again: Ethan Hawke is a national treasure. Up there too, is Ewan McGregor, who simply has an appeal unlike most other actors of his generation.
Hawke and McGregor are "Raymond & Ray." Well, actually McGregor plays Raymond, and Hawke plays Ray...two half-brothers who are brought together with the news that their estranged father has died. Despite the actors best efforts - and an occasional flash of clever insight - "Raymond & Ray" is all journey with no destination, making the movie a bit of a let-down given the talent and potential involved.
Raymond (Hawke) is a straight-laced do-gooder, and a bit of a nerd. That's in stark contrast to his half-brother Ray (Hawke), who is a womanizing rebel. Raymond finds Ray in the dead of night to tell him the news: Their father has died. Raymond works hard to convince Ray to even attend their father's last rites, but the brothers begrudgingly agree to go together. Their father - always a bit of a trickster who enjoyed messing with his sons - has outlined that his final wishes is that all of his sons actually dig his grave.
What ensues is a character-driven dramedy (there are comedic moments, but the tone of the movie ultimately makes it a drama), where the two men slowly reveal sides of themselves to the audience. There are great breakthroughs, and some shocking surprises buried in the brothers' pasts. Both actors are given moments to shine, and they fill in many of the blanks that the script leaves them to discover.
Oddly enough, the dead father is the least interesting character in the film, which is tragic in that much of the movie focuses on the brothers trying to find out who he really was, what motivated him, and the exploration of their relationship with him. When Raymond and Ray are together, talking about their own relationship, the movie transcends the rest of the melodrama.
But not quite enough. "Raymond & Ray" commits to a dry, soft tone that will nearly leave you in a coma, and contains a somewhat distracting light-jazz score that somehow doesn't fit the movie (despite Ray's past as a musician). McGregor and Hawke are great together, and any fans of this duo might enjoy the time spent with them inside this quirky world. But the time investment doesn't pay dividends, as ultimately, we don't learn anything substantial about any of these people...sometimes it's best to just bury the past and forget about it.
Genre: Drama, Comedy.
Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ethan Hawke, Sophie Okonedo.
Written & Directed by Rodrigo Garcia ("Four Good Days," "Last Days in the Desert," "Albert Nobbs," "Passengers," "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her").
"Raymond & Ray" is available on Apple TV+ on Friday, October 21st, 2022.
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