AFF 2023 Film Review: World Premiere of Grapefruit at Austin Film Festival

Chase Joliet’s directorial debut, Grapefruit, celebrated its World Premiere at this year’s Austin Film Festival and is competing for the Austin Film Festival’s Best Narrative Feature award. Joliet (It Comes At Night, To The Wonder, Voyage Of Time) wrote and directed his feature film starring Joliet as Travis Williams, alongside his wife Steph Barkley as Billie and Emmy-nominated actress Rosanna Arquette (The Executioner’s Song, Desperately Seeking Susan) as his mother, Evelyn Williams.

Synopsis: After a devastating divorce, Travis is forced to move into his childhood home with his eccentric, newly sober mother. While attending an AA meeting with Evelyn, Travis meets the wildly alive Billie. Against his mother’s wishes, he develops a friendship with her, pushing everyone to look beyond their shortcomings and accept each other for who they are and where they’ve been.

This drama is well-written and very entertaining. Its characters are challenged by the choices they have made in life and struggle to put their lives back together one day at a time. Joliet, Barkley, and Arquette are at the film’s center, each providing an outstanding performance.

The synopsis states Travis returns to live in his mother’s home because of a divorce, but there is more to it. There is a reveal later in the film, though. After the divorce and other things, including his mother’s personality, Travis is understandably not ready for any relationship. Billie (Barkley) has an extroverted personality when Travis first meets her, but little by little, her persistence yields a developing friendship.

Bobby Soto (A Million Miles Away, Flamin’ Hot) stars as Officer Luna, who is responsible for answering calls to the local police department rather than breaking the rules of his parole. Soto is good in this supporting role with the screen time he is given.

It is lovely to view Arquette (Pulp Fiction, Desperately Seeking Susan) in this film as a concerned mother of her adult children who is still in recovery herself after three years sober. She has three other films to come, and I look forward to seeing more of her work.

I recommend viewing this film during the festival, or if not, later when news of distribution in theaters or streaming platforms becomes available.

Next screening: Monday, October 30, 2023 at the Galaxy Theater, 6:30 pm

Source: AFF, Big Kitchen Films

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