Review: Funeral Fever

Written and directed by Janicel Diaz, after a young woman receives a psychic reading, she plans her version of the perfect funeral, despite her sister’s disbelief and neglect from her father, in hopes that they will be present in her final days. Starring: Gwendolyn Gay and Susanna Ninomiya.

As Funeral Fever opens, you’re thrown into a world of Legally Blonde, Paris Hilton and the early noughties obsession with all things bright pink. It’s a style that might make you think this is going to be all glitter and glam but you’d be wrong. What it actually evokes is a strong sense of nostalgia which then transforms into a surprisingly sentimental and sincere story. It’s a good example of judging on first impressions and preconceived notions about how style relates to personality. However the direction does feed strongly from that era of vanity and bouncy personality to create a sisterly atmosphere.

The story itself is delightfully unexpected and explores the idea of masking grief, struggles and pain with outlandish behaviour. As well as the importance of having someone who can see past that mask and offer their support and sympathy. It’s fairly brief but Janicel Diaz’s writing makes a strong impression, the emotion is genuine and the way it evolves is very sweet. It’s also a good mix of being both funny and emotional.

Gwendolyn Gay and Susanna Ninomiya both lead the film with charm and authenticity. Their relationship as sisters is easily convincing, individual and endearing. They manage to create great personalities for their characters in a short window, on top of creating a strong connection with each other. It exemplifies the unspoken connection between siblings, to be able to interpret what goes unsaid and translate the other’s actions to their real meaning.

Funeral Fever is a surprisingly touching exploration of grief and how it can grow in unexpected ways. It touches upon how people can hide their pain by throwing their entire energy into something, even if it seems completely over the top. As well as the importance of having people in your life who can see when you need help. Gwendolyn Gay and Susanna Ninomiya are extremely enjoyable to watch, doing a great job of bringing both humour and emotion.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Reviewed as part of Women X Film Festival 2022

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