Based on the play of the same name, Stephan Karam’s film The Humans is an American drama set within an apartment around Thanksgiving. At a season which is supposed to be about celebration, three generations gather under one roof to discuss their lives, from the positives and negatives to even the most obscure conversations. Starring Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun, Beanie Feldstein, Jayne Houdyshell, and Richard Jenkins, The Humans give an outsiders view into what this random family is going through.
In many ways, Humans feels like a look into the ‘typical’ American life, especially during the holidays. Opposing viewpoints, perspectives, and generational differences are all things that often surface during these times and make the season challenging for many. One very important conversation to the film that was addressed during the directors Q&A is the impact of work and how much finances interplay with family connection and life. A struggling family dealing with job loss, unemployment, and medical bills seems standard for the typical American family as finances of older generations fail. As a result, it seems that there’s a higher dependence on the younger generation to take care of parents. In fact, having three generations under one roof has become more common, simply out of necessity.
One thing that I loved about The Humans was how raw and human it felt. Throughout their time together, the viewer is left as a bystander, forced to listen to the lives of these people. In many ways, these people are an average family. They could be you or your loved ones, including the sorrows and anxieties which bubble to the surface and how they try to cope with them by coming together. The film is beautiful yet, at the same time, it’s also sad seeing the human experience play out so casually in this little apartment. There’s something so fascinating about hearing “private” conversations that aren’t meant for our ears. It’s like we’re eavesdropping on the gossip.
Overall, The Humans is a great movie that provides a look into the typical American household and the fears, dreams, and regrets that haunt us all. As a family, they do their best to endure their struggles and support one another. Backed by stellar performances and a solid script, the film highlights the challenges of doing life together.
The Humans is now playing at the TIFF ’21.