Think about a domineering father so useless set on messing along with his two sons’ heads that he offers them each the identical title. The ghost of 1 such dad haunts Rodrigo García’s “Raymond & Ray,” a drained, mild-mannered street journey drama that does the alternative of taking the trail much less traveled. Portraying the 2 Rays, stars Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor may need some viewers pull as soon as this Apple TV+ title settles into its streaming residence. However in following the 2 leads’ emotionally messy characters as they half-heartedly embark on a mission to reconcile with their previous, the movie has little authentic to supply.
You’ll acknowledge the inventory story as quickly as Raymond (McGregor) pulls into Ray’s driveway one stormy evening and stonily proclaims to his polar-opposite half-brother (Hawke), whom he hasn’t seen in years, “Our father is useless.” Sure, there’ll certainly be scores to settle from the previous, secrets and techniques that may pour out and shades of familial grief that may rise to the floor in opposition to the percentages, because the brothers study to just accept their late mother or father, a person each wretchedly abusive and charismatically unknowable. If solely García, equally ham-fisted along with his 2020 habit drama “4 Good Days,” had been a contact livelier in stewing these acquainted components, or at the least gave us a purpose or two to really feel for these brothers on a melancholic journey of discovery. As a substitute, “Raymond & Ray” is curiously alienating regardless of the 2 A-listers within the driver seat, some first rate chuckles to spare and a good-looking, cinematic end courtesy of DP Igor Jadue-Lillo.
On the floor, Raymond is the extra accountable variety: clean-shaven, neatly introduced and dutiful, giving the impression of somebody with a useful grown-up life. Ray, then again, is a free spirit with a regular guidelines of traits you’d anticipate of that sort: a raveled former jazz musician, a recovering addict (now sober for years) and a perennial women’ man, working odds jobs right here and there, unable to retain any one in all them. However not all the pieces is because it appears, and regardless of his put-together picture, Raymond is caught in a messy scenario. A minor DUI has just lately value him his driver’s license, and within the midst of a separation, his third spouse refuses to provide him a experience to the funeral. So he asks an unwilling Ray to affix him in burying their father and reconnecting with one another on an in a single day journey, after their drawn-out estrangement.
Predictably, the journey supplies each with therapeutic conversations as they alternate reminiscences of a person whose approval and help they desperately sought, however by no means attained. Greater than something, Ray recollects how judgmental the previous man was of his music, poisoning his confidence with painful jabs that also hang-out him. The tightlipped Raymond suffers beneath the load of one thing much more terrible: The reveal is an unexpected shock, however makes little influence, maybe as a result of we care so little concerning the movie’s characters, useless or alive. Hawke is definitely the extra interesting presence right here, organically easing into Ray’s scruffy persona, conscious of his attract to a parade of ladies who gained’t cease making eyes at him. Whereas Raymond’s contrasting discomfort is clearly by design — he’s the uptight one in spite of everything — the actor appears too timid and hesitant all through, feeling as out-of-place because the movie’s generically jazzy rating by Jeff Beal.
Fortunately, proceedings brighten up a contact as soon as the 2 Rays attain the funeral residence, with further solid members becoming a member of the circus. There’s an amusingly by-the-book funeral director fretting over an unsettled steadiness for his deceased buyer’s embalming, a kindly Reverend (delightfully performed by Vondie Curtis Corridor) and most of all, an influential pair of ladies from the previous man’s previous. One is his nurse Kiera (a swish Sophie Okonedo), who attracts Ray’s consideration. The opposite is the beautiful Maribel Verdú (“Y tu Mama También”), who livens up the entire bundle within the function of Dad’s ex-lover Lucia.
As Kiera and Lucia share their very own nice accounts of the late man that vastly differ from these of his sons, it’s fairly irritating how a lot these girls resemble manic-pixie-dream figures. Certainly, this broadly written pair appears to exist solely to assist Raymond and Ray to make peace with the previous — extra like on-paper beliefs than absolutely realized characters. Nonetheless, Okonedo and particularly Verdú profit from their thankless elements with humor and elegance, whereas the 2 Rays dig their father’s grave — actually, as this simply one of many previous man’s comically particular, power-tripping requests all through his will.
There’s the slightest trace of knowledge and even pleasure within the final act of “Raymond & Ray” that makes one interrogate how effectively we actually know our mother and father — a query most getting old human beings ask themselves because the time ticks onwards in direction of the inevitable. However García’s movie is just too run-of-the-mill to matter in the long run, on its minor tour to nowhere particular.