Sundance Review: “Raspberry”

Year: 2021
Runtime: 7 minutes
Director/Writer: Julian Doan
Stars: Raymond Lee, Alexis Rhee, Joseph Lee, Gihee Hong, Harry Du Young, Molly Leland, Matt Kelly

By Morgan Roberts

Your father has just died. What do you do? In this short film, Julian Doan explores how we start to grieve in the early moments of someone passing. Raymond Lee plays The Son, who as his father (Harry Du Young) dies, sits in the corner as his mother (Alexis Rhee), brother (Joseph Lee) and sister (Gihee Hong) stay right by his side until the very end. The Son struggles to come to terms with death. As the family waits for the funeral home to arrive, The Son awkwardly reads a “death and dying” pamphlet.

Raymond Lee appears in Raspberry by Julian Doan, an official selection of the Shorts Program at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Geoff George. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

The film is both extremely funny – especially if you have a bit of a dark sense of humor – and endlessly touching.  The awkwardness of the funeral home directors (Molly Leland and Matt Kelly) is brilliant. I worked in hospice for a year in graduate school. The amount of times I would tell someone to “take care” as their loved one was dying is truly embarrassing, so to see it played onscreen was incredible to watch. (I know I’m not the only one.) What makes this film so special is all it accomplishes in its seven minute runtime. That’s right, in seven minutes, we were taken on a rollercoaster about death, our relationships with each other, and how there is no one way to say goodbye. I am not much of a crier but I was brought to tears, after howling with laughter. Doan is able to balance the pain and sometimes hilarious absurdity of loss.

Now playing in the Shorts Program 2 at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

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