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We Are Gathered Here Today

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The height of the COVID menace, about two years ago, is chronicled in We are Gathered here Today as a drama that does laudable service to everything we felt and did during that time.

More than anything else, the remote videos like Zoom and Google gave us are ground zero for our collective anguish. In this tale, a mixed -race, multi-generational family has no choice but to witness the pandemic death of patriarch Henry Stone (Peter Jason) remotely because visitors were not allowed in hospitals at that time.

Heading the entourage is eldest son, Henry Stone (Danny Huston), trying to keep a lid on his complex feelings and those of the immediate family and friends who eventually join the meeting. Writer/director Paul Boyd makes the split screen come alive as if it were a proscenium arch and we in the front row.

I am struck how used to the venue I have become: I immediately studied the performance of first-rate actors and related the many incendiary issues that so frequently poke up as if at a Thanksgiving dinner. Yet, even electronically, I noted, love conquers all.

More than showing the impersonal nature of video connecting, this drama shows the emotions and difficult relationships that could exist in any family, especially in the supercharged atmosphere as the death of the patriarch. No video call could erase the dynamics; rather it mitigates the passion a bit given the remoteness.

We are Gathered Here Today not only details the sorrow the pandemic brings to the world, it also depicts vividly the pain of saying goodbye to anyone at any time. A chronicle about a dark time in our history turns out to be a moving drama about what James Joyce called the “melancholy unity between the living and the dead.”

We are Gathered Here Today

Director: Peter Boyd (I, Challenger)

Screenplay: Boyd

Cast: Danny Huston (The Aviator)

Run Time: 1h 14m

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts NPR’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics as well as podcasts Back Talk and Double Take out of WCBE 90.5 FM. Contact him at JohnDeSando52@gmail.com

John DeSando holds a BA from Georgetown University and a Ph.D. in English from The University of Arizona. He served several universities as a professor, dean, and academic vice president. He has been producing and broadcasting as a film critic on It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics for more than two decades. DeSando received the Los Angeles Press Club's first-place honors for national entertainment journalism.