Jeanette (Pamela Holden Stewart), a French woman with no visible means of support, lives in a beautiful house in upstate New York with Martin (Wayne Lamont Sims), a painter. It's preternaturally quiet, the house is shrouded in snow, and their lives are encircled by easy routine tinged with the frustration of a long-together couple. She brings coffee out to him in the barn refashioned into a studio ("dinner's at six"), he walks the dog, they drink wine and read, gently snipe at each other ("I'll take care of it tomorrow"), and go to sleep. Wake up, repeat. This is the long, quiet opening to The Reception and it's just dripping with boredom. Fortunately, Jeanette's daughter Sierra (Margaret Burkwitt) shows up with her (surprise!) husband Andrew (Darien Sills-Evans) for an unannounced visit, in order to get the dysfunctional juices flowing.

Writer/director John G. Young has taken care to underlay the seemingly perfect domesticity of this privileged rural existence with plenty of emotional landmines. Unlike the assumption we're meant to make at the beginning, Jeanette and Martin are not married, as he's gay. Sierra and Jeanette haven't talked for years, as Jeanette was not exactly the best mother when her husband, Sierra's father, left her for a younger woman, leaving Jeanette a borderline alcoholic prone to abusive rages. Andrew seems an uptight urban snot completely not at home in this quiet, woodsy place. Also, it's more than likely that for all her avowed anti-maternal rage, Sierra is patterning herself after Jeanette by her choice of husband - both Andrew and Martin being black. To top everything off, it seems that by marrying Andrew, Sierra will be able to come into some family money.

Continue reading: The Reception Review