By Luke Anderson | [email protected]
Native Alexandrian Casey Wilson (“Saturday Night Live,” “Happy Endings”) makes her directorial debut in the short film, “Daddio,” which offers a comedic take on the real-life events that followed the death of Wilson’s mother.
At the film’s core is the relationship between Abby, played by Wilson, and her quirky father, Paul, played by Michael McKean (“This Is Spinal Tap,” “Better Call Saul”). One year after the death of their beloved mother and wife, Abby and Paul are still struggling to deal with their grief, which they experience in very different ways.
Abby is in a state of depression. She shares some qualities with people featured on “Hoarders,” as she attempts to fill the void with a mess of objects surrounding her. She is sleeping in her closet, a small space that comforts her in a way that an empty, lonely bed cannot. Year-old sympathy cards are still propped up on a nearby table, and she keeps her laundry in a grocery cart rather than a clothes hamper.
Across the country, her father is intent on preserving the events of his wife’s death and behaves erratically. Everyone seems to have moved on in their busy lives and left him behind in his new life as a widower. In an awkward encounter, he interrupts his neighbors’ breakfast to announce that he’s ready to use their hot tub that night, a favor they forgot they offered as a condolence long ago.
Later, while shouting out unwanted commentary at tennis-players, he finds a $20 bill. Seeing a likeness in himself to Andrew Jackson, he decides to get a perm to complete the look.
When Paul visits Abby in Hollywood, McKean and Wilson perform well as an entertaining yet authentic father-daughter duo. Their gentle bickering leads the film to its climax, when Abby becomes upset after discovering the extent to which her father has documented her mother’s death.
Paul struggles to explain his actions through recounting the moments before his wife’s passing.
“I really hate that we have to filter this memory through your mind,” Abby tells him.
However, Paul tells her that the last conversation he had with her mother was about how much she loved Abby “to pieces.”
Through Paul’s most vulnerable moment, the film shows that there is no reason behind our actions when we are in shock or grieving. Our methods for dealing with loss are instinctual, and we should not be faulted for them, even if they seem unorthodox to some.
In the scene that follows, Paul walks with Abby down the road to return the grocery cart from Abby’s bedroom. Paul helps Abby guide the cart into the corral, symbolizing the end of Abby’s self-isolation and reminding us that the best way to move through grief and remember a loved one is to lean on family and friends who share our loss.