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The Young Wife Review | Beautifully Chaotic Wedding Saga Will Strike a Nerve FSalinks

Summary

  • Prepare for chaos and emotional turmoil in the extremely artful and messy film
    The Young Wife
    , with a phenomenal Kiersey Clemons.
  • The Young Wife
    speaks to the anxieties of many people through its resonant dialogue and chaotic scenes, constructed with stylish editing and cinematography.
  • Leon Bridges stars but is unfortunately not present enough in this darkly funny but intense day-in-the-life drama.



If you’re already married, how might you describe your wedding weekend? Beautiful? Chaotic? Stressful? All the above? And if you haven’t yet tied the knot, perhaps you have a certain idea of who would be there. In-laws. Parents. Childhood pals. Friendly co-workers. Neighbors. Exes? The list goes on. Would everyone get along, if placed in one location for one afternoon, with various histories and emotions? Cramped, stepping around each other, trying to get the same person’s attention again and again β€” and again? If your blood pressure spikes a bit just reading these words, The Young Wife will certainly trigger some emotions. Ah yes, families are messy. And not just the biological ones.


Writer-director Tayarisha Poe’s new film, The Young Wife β€” aptly titled to evoke a feeling of, “hmmm, is she actually ready for this?” β€” throws chaos at its titular heroine in the form of her knowingly loudmouthed pals who all show up in unison to her “wedding party” (not a formal ceremony) while other conflicts play out in her mind: work, money, true love, the pursuit of happiness. Overall, the end result is an enriching and enlightening experience that is surprisingly artful and calls to mind certain classic wedding flicks. In a good way, of course.


Safdie / Von Trier Vibes, Anyone?

The Young Wife

4/5

On her wedding day, all that stands between a young woman (Kiersey Clemons, DOPE) and marital bliss with her soon-to-be husband (singer/songwriter Leon Bridges) is surviving the chaos and expectations of family and friends, each intensifying her spiraling panic

Release Date
May 31, 2024

Director
Tayarisha Poe

Runtime
1h 37m

Writers
Tayarisha Poe

Studio(s)
FilmNation Entertainment , Archer Gray

Pros

  • A terrific leading performance by Kiersey Clemons.
  • Beautifully choreographed and photographed chaos, with unique, stylish editing.
  • While maybe too artistic for some, the film’s themes speak to the anxieties of a generation.
Cons

  • Leon Bridges is unfortunately under-utilized here and should’ve been more present.

What if you were to tie the knot just one day after quitting your high-paying job? Or rather, what if you decided to quit your job the day before getting married? Hmmm, some of us are perhaps addicted to the thrills of chaos. Throwing our lives for a loop because, well, we need to feel alive. Our titular protagonist is the millennial Celestina, played to perfection by Kiersey Clemons (Dope, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters).


Clemons has tackled a variety of roles over the years, and The Young Wife proves she can also dabble in a sort of Safdie brothers-like adrenaline saga, where one character is put through the wringer over the course of just one afternoon. She shouts over her friends. She throws elbows to get to her private space at the venue. She tries in vain to meditate when it all gets to be too much. She self-medicates with drugs and alcohol. Will anything do the trick to get her through this escapade?


Her posse of invading pals include longtime friend Brianna (the terrific A. Jae Michele), who gives Celestina some hard truths about their careers and more. Then there are the more eccentric friends, such as Geoffrey (The Last Stop in Yuma County star Connor Paolo) and Tessa (Star Wars alum Kelly Marie Tran). Michaela Watkins is always wonderful to see, as well. We don’t meet the charming husband-to-be River (the woefully under-utilized real-life singer Leon Bridges) until much later, and the movie instead opens with a fantastically exciting introduction to the principal players with flashy, artsy title cards, as if we’re witnessing an opening-credits fashion show that might make filmmakers like Lars Von Trier proud.

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Mother and Daughter at the Wedding

Speaking of Von Trier, in our recent interview with director Poe, she emphasized how his acclaimed film Melancholia served as a substantial influence on The Young Wife, and some other classics might come to mind besides the work of the aforementioned Safdie brothers (Uncut Gems, Good Time). Rachel Getting Married is another, particularly because of how we’re simply thrust into the madness of the hard-hitting conversations Celestina has with her tough-love pals amid the beautiful occasion that is marriage. Even the indie family-gathering-as-a-panic-attack film Kesha comes to mind.


Even when Celestina has a break from the bickering, the fun doesn’t end there β€” because her biological fam is there, too. Sure, she cozies up to her fun-loving, elder in-law Cookie (the reliably droll Judith Light), but then there’s Celestina’s actual mother, played by none other than recent Emmy winner Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary).

Even if the young wife and her mom don’t necessarily shout over each other, their quiet but emotionally charged scenes away from the indoor chaos are equally, if not more, hard-hitting. Having veteran all-stars like Light and Ralph among the sea of millennial performers ups Roe’s game as a filmmaker, showcasing her ability to direct a lovely spread of actors across different age ranges and demographics.

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The Young Wife Stylishly Voices the Disgruntled Ennui of a Generation

But then it’s back to the marital maelstrom, where Celestina rants again to Brianna about life, the six-figure job she just quit β€” but hasn’t told River about yet, uh-oh β€” why none of it matters because we’re going to die one day, and more. It will cut you deep, more likely than not, especially her little comments about the absurdity of saving money just so we can “take mediocre vacations and spend them replying to emails.” Oof. Clemons is cutting here, and speaks to the dissatisfaction of a generation.


And speaking of work, The Young Wife offers very funny mini-flashbacks to Celestina quitting her job the day before and literally pouring coffee angrily over her co-worker Dave (the hilarious Jon Rudnitsky). Of course, Dave then shows up to the wedding unannounced, creating even more anxiety in poor Celestina’s rattled mind.

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Otherwise, watch out for satirical meditative moments that play on the retro TVs throughout the wedding venue, and other artistic flairs that are stylishly memorable (though possibly alienating to some viewers). It all makes for a well-rounded indie drama that also offers black humor, naturalistic dialogue, heartfelt messages, and unforgettable performances. It’s a can’t-miss for millennials at a crossroads everywhere.


From Republic Pictures, The Young Wife will be released May 31, 2024, on demand and digital platforms like Google Play, Prime Video, Fandango at Home, and on Apple TV through the link below.

Watch The Young Wife

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