Runtime: 81 minutes
Writer/Director: Kate Tsang
Stars: Miya Cech, Rhea Perlman, Leonardo Nam, Kannon, Paulina Lule, Keith Powell, Jonathan Slavin
By Morgan Roberts
Sammy (Miya Cech) is continuing to struggle after the death of her mother. Sammy is getting into trouble at school, forcing her dad (Leonardo Nam) to give her an ultimatum: go to summer school at the community college and keep up your grades or go to a military-esque camp for wayward youth.
In addition to the death of her mother, Sammy’s father has started dating again and is getting serious with girlfriend, Marianne (Paulina Lule). Her older sister, Patricia (Kannon) does not seem concerned by this change. Feeling alone in her grief, Sammy unexpectedly meets Margot (Rhea Perlman) who is a magician. The pair soon start an unexpected friendship.
Written and directed by Kate Tsang, “Marvelous and the Black Hole” (2021) is quintessential Sundance. The film has a lot of heart. It gives voice to grief in the midst of just being an angsty teenager. It provides representation of an Asian family that we don’t typically get to see on film. Cech is excellent as Sammy. She lets Sammy slowly show us her hurt and allows for her grief to be layered in every scene. Cech, Kannon, and Nam have great chemistry too. You believe their family unit and their dynamics.
It is Perlman who is simply dynamite. Margot is a woman who has used magic in an attempt to mend herself over the years. The mysticism is more than just parlor tricks but an avenue for healing. I grew up with Perlman, and it was refreshing to see her in this role. And as an aside, it is also refreshing to see a woman over 35 portraying not a mother or a shut-in.
“Marvelous and the Black Hole” is a sweet and touching film about love, loss, and living with grief. It gives voice to those feelings, especially when we’re young, that we don’t possess the language for.