The desolation left behind after the sudden death of a loved one is a universal concept. That grief is only compounded when the cause of death is a suicide, and the family and friends are left cut adrift without answers or an easy resolution.
Inez & Doug & Kira is about those left behind, struggling for understanding in a world that has been harshly and forever altered. After Inez (Tawny Cypress) —a woman struggling with both bipolar disorder and addiction issues— commits suicide, her twin sister Kira (Talia Thiesfield) and partner Doug (Michael Chernus) — who was also Inez’s best friend and sponsor — search for answers as they begin to pack up Inez’s house.
While Kira is trying move on as best she can by digging out a life in the aftermath for her, Doug and their unborn child, he is left picking through the wreckage and using the photographs she laid on her bed as clues as to what led Inez to take her own life. The answer is not easy, unravelling through flashbacks to Inez’s life and the difficulties that she had and overcome. Doug and Kira, as the two closest people in her life, are weaved throughout each of these glimpses into her history: from an underage encounter with a guidance counsellor, to a first AA meeting, to a messy break-up with man who saw her as nothing more than a “coke buddy”, her life is laid bare.
Writer and director Julia Kots uses these (mostly) chronological flashbacks to depict the life of a messy, complicated woman, who loved those around her as fiercely as she destroyed relationships. Cypress, as Inez, exudes a thorny vulnerability as she moves from one situation to another; the flashbacks helping to capitalise on this sense of urgency and disconnected life that Inez has experienced. Her chemistry with Chernus as the gentle-spirited Doug shines through in the scenes they share together. From awkward encounters at an AA meeting, to moments of solidarity as best friends against the disapproval of Kira, their friendship feels achingly real. The title itself is reflective of this slowly unveiling dynamic — so close to an easy pairing of either “Inez & Doug” or “Doug & Kira”, it is unwieldy in its desire to include all three — something that is revealed slowly over the course of the film.
Inez & Doug & Kira is about the complexities of relationships and how grief is so stark in unveiling the differences between those relationships, even within one small familial unit. With strong performances from the core cast, this tale of addiction, mental illness and the desire to understand others is a worthy watch.
Inez & Doug & Kira is available on VOD from September 29th
by Rose Dymock