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The whole family's here in "Relative" (Directed by Michael Glover Smith, 2024)

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“Relative” Plot Summary

“Relative” is a family dramedy with a lot to say. Everyone’s going through something in the Frank Family, and writer/director Michael Glover Smith provides a slice-of-life drama for each member. But with a story that could begin or end at any point in the movie, “Relative” makes you feel like you could’ve skipped this family party. 

Set in Chicago, “Relative” is an ensemble film that focuses on the lives of six Frank family members. You have momma and poppa Frank (Wendy Robie and Francis Guinan), an elderly couple concerned about their adult children. You got Rod Frank (Keith D. Gallagher), a man who lives in his parents’ basement and is still recovering from a bad break-up. You have Evonne Frank (Clare Cooney), a depressed woman who’s struggling with the looming separation from her wife. You have Norma Frank (Emily Lape), a woman who just wants her family together and to live as freely as they did when they were young. The Frank family is reuniting for Benji Frank’s (Cameron Scott Roberts) graduation. 

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The whole family’s here in “Relative” (Directed by Michael Glover Smith, 2024)

Benji’s family plans to throw him a graduation party, but he starts to crush on a woman from his school and would rather spend time with her than with his family. Inner turmoil bubbles up within each family member as they quietly struggle with their personal lives. But these quiet battles can sometimes turn into public lashes at each other, and the tensions reach a head when the Frank parents announce that they plan to sell their home.

You’ll find someone’s story to relate to in “Relative,” whether it be through the sentimentality, the lost potential, the depression, or the genuine care this family has for each other.  Smith keeps the drama grounded and the character interactions intimate. But like life, the story and drama are so grounded that “Relative” works best as snippets of people’s lives without closure or much epiphany about what happens next for these people. 

Content Information

“Relative” is not rated but includes profanity, drug use, drinking, and adult themes. 

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. “Relative” was filmed in Chicago, Illinois. 

“Relative” General Information

Director Michael Glover Smith
Screenplay By Michael Glover Smith
Date Released May 21, 2024
How To Watch Video On Demand
Genre(s) Comedy

Drama

Film Length 1 Hour, 37  Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Characters and Cast
Karen Frank Wendy Robie
David Frank Francis Guinan
Benji Frank Cameron Scott Roberts
Evonne Frank Clare Cooney
Norma Frank Emily Lape
Rod Frank Keith D. Gallagher

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Karen Frank (Wendy Robie)

Karen is the matriarch of the Frank family. She is patient and understanding of all her children. Now In her late sixties, she continues to work at a library in order to support her kids. 

David Frank (Francis Guinan)

David is the patriarch of the Frank family. He, too, is kind but voices more concern about the future of his children, especially Rod. He’s also obsessed with death. 

Benji Frank (Cameron Scott Roberts)

Benji is graduating from college. As the youngest  Benji starts to develop a romance with someone just as he plans to leave the city. 

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Evonne Frank (Clare Cooney)

Evonne is depressed and going through a divorce. While her ex is kind and supportive, Evonne keeps her separation secret from her daughter and the rest of their family. 

Norma Frank (Emily Lape)

Norma travels alone back to her family’s home. Norma is the most sentimental about who their family used to be when they were all together.

Rod Frank (Keith D. Gallagher)

At 34, Rod lives’ in his parents’ basement. After a bad breakup and PTSD, he spends his days playing video games. 

“Relative” Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive)

Let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. What did you think of “Relative?” Was it relatable to your own family? 

On The Fence

“Relative” Doesn’t Show, Mostly Tells

There’s an understandable amount of exposition needed for most films. But by setting up six different characters, “Relative” is tasked with characters explaining who they are and their relationships in the family instead of us seeing and coming to these conclusions ourselves. Benji explains that his closest sibling is Evonne and that Rod was a veteran from the Iraq War; Evonne and Norma explain their dissatisfaction with their lives. Certain emotional beats in “Relative” could have been conveyed with a look and trusted by the audience to make the connection. 

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Awkward Dialogue

Characters clearly explain how they feel in “Relative (Evonne telling her mom about her depression, Benji expressing his feelings for Hekla, etc.), and it feels like a wasted opportunity for drama. Certain scenes play out like afterschool specials because of how easily the characters share their emotions. But the most awkward scenes in ”Relative” are the ill mentions of aging hipsters, scoffs at Trump votes, and support for Black Lives Matter. It feels performative if it’s not related to the plot. 

Spread Stories Provide Little Closure

“Relative” will be great for the actors’ reels. Each character gets a monologue or a chance to act the hell out of their characters. But these scenes all feel loosely connected and struggle to make a whole. For some, this may make “Relative” true to life. People fall in love, people struggle to get themselves out of emotional and existential ruts. But in “Relative,” drama is introduced without any closure (the parents moving, Norma’s and Rod’s dissatisfaction with their lives), so you wonder why the drama was shown in the first place.  

Good If You Like

  • Family dramas and slice-of-live movies.

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Fighting with My Family
  2. Bleeding Love
  3. American Fiction

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

relative
Relative (2024) Review – A Frustrating Family Dramedy
Overall
The drama is so grounded that “Relative” works best as snippets of people’s lives without closure or much epiphany about what happens next for these people.
Community Rating0 Votes
0
Highlights
Disputable
“Relative” Doesn’t Show, Mostly Tells
Awkward Dialogue
Spread Stories Provide Little Closure
72

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