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Brittany Snow’s Directorial Debut Is a Triumph


Brittany Snow's Directorial Debut Is a Triumph


Summary

  • Parachute
    is a refreshingly raw, honest, and vulnerable portrayal of addiction and codependency in relationships.
  • Through heartfelt performances, Brittany Snow’s film explores the challenges of self-love and emotional intimacy with skillful storytelling.
  • The movie’s indie charm and emotional depth make it a triumph in handling the complexity of sensitive souls and psyches.



Writer/director Brittany Show (the Pitch Perfect films, Hairspray) boldly pulls the creative ripcord in Parachute, her feature film debut behind the camera, and makes an impressive landing. The filmmaker delivers a refreshingly honest, compassionate, and thought-provoking story about addiction and codependency. Parachute is a glorious achievement from Snow and some great indie filmmaking to boot.


Curiously, the first draft of the script, which Snow collaborated on with friend/colleague Becca Gleason, was more of a rom-com than a deep dive into the complexities of maintaining honest connections in friendships and relationships while your own life is spinning out of control. Cheers to this evolution, which is powerfully moving and benefits from heartfelt comedic moments.

The film revolves around two people moving through challenging life transitions. Front and center is Riley (Courtney Eaton of Yellowjackets), an idealistic young woman who struggles with an eating disorder and body image issues. Ethan (Thomas Mann), a wannabe musician, is the perfect emotional trigger for Riley, and vice versa. The duo meet on a fateful day in each of their lives — Riley has just been released from a rehabilitation center, Ethan from jail. What could go wrong?

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Two Characters at a Crossroads

Parachute movie poster

Parachute

4.5/5

Release Date
April 5, 2024

Runtime
97min

Studio
Yale Productions, The Space Program, Yale Entertainment, Carte Blanche, BondIt Media Capital

There’s a powerful scene in Parachute in which Ethan says to Riley: “I have no idea what you’re looking at when you look in the mirror.” Up until this point later in the film, we, as an audience, have experienced what Riley sees in the mirror. We don’t actually see it, per se, but we feel it, based on the young girl’s reactions to her own image. For the vast majority of us, it’s challenging today to look at any image of ourselves without experiencing some fluctuating self-esteem. Between celebrated social media posts featuring “perfect” bodies and ageless faces, the goal to look good has dramatically shifted to “how can I look so much better?”


That warped view of “self” is Riley’s cross to bear. As a filmmaker, Brittany Snow handles the subject exceptionally well, drawing from her own earlier experiences. The film spans several years in Riley’s life as she attempts to move through her body image issues. Then there’s Ethan. The two bond instantly, two walking wounds setting themselves for more heartbreak. Ethan’s main issue is that he’s codependent. These two make for a perfect dysfunctional fit and Snow’s intelligent eye and ability to make the appropriate tonal shifts — light to dramatic — is impressive.


The two give it a go and surf through the many highs and lows of what begins as a platonic bond; clearly, Ethan is more invested in Riley. But the relationship feels real and authentic, and Riley loves Ethan as a friend. This lopsided dynamic gives the film a fascinating set-up, leaving audiences interested in how things will play out.

Dave Bautista, Kid Cudi, and Joel McHale Add Charming Depth

In the meantime, Riley keeps up appearances, adhering to the wishes of her therapist, Dr. Akerman (Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin), such as self-exploration, attending 12-step meetings, and all that. But life is so much fun in free fall, isn’t it? Riley’s mother (Mle Chester) is absent for most of the picture, but the woman’s posh loft is a great (crash) landing pad for Riley. Meanwhile, Riley’s BFF Casey (Francesca Reale) tries to buffer her friend’s frequently manic behavior.

Related: Best Movies About Dysfunctional Families, Ranked


Ethan, nice guy that he is, mops up some of the emotional messes — his cross to bear. Weighed down by his own warped family dynamic, Ethan’s only other ray of sunshine is his roommate Justin (Scott Mescudi/Kid Cudi). As the emotional intimacy between him and Riley deepens, a moment finally arrives when an opportunity to be more intimate emerges. This is a major trigger for Riley. Trust and physical intimacy? How foreign it is. The girl still cannot shake breaking up with her boyfriend before rehab.

Levity comes in the form of the many recognizable costars Snow lured into the project. In addition to Rodriguez and Mescudi, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) stands out as the lovable host of a murder-mystery club where Riley finds employment. Joel McHale (Community) pops in playing a significant character that adds context to the story.

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Parachute Is Raw, Honest, and Real

Overall, the scenarios between Riley and Ethan are refreshingly raw, honest, and filled with vulnerability. It’s a daily battle for Riley to learn how to love herself. Ethan, too — for him, it’s easier to love everybody else. There’s a great moment where somebody in Riley’s circle calls her out on her own B.S., revealing what it’s like to be on the receiving end of somebody else’s extremely complex “ism.”

Brittany Snow handles all this with the skill of a longtime filmmaker. The movie never feels preachy or cloying. Far from it. It’s a triumph. It has a loving grip on the complexities of our sensitive souls and psyches. Eaton and Mann capture our attention, with Eaton especially turning in a heart-wrenching performance. Between its captivating leads, great handle on the subject, and quiet indie film vibe, Parachute floats just fine. Parachute is in select theaters and available on demand April 12.


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