Written and directed by Polly Draper, “Stella’s Last Weekend” is a true family affair. Not only does it star her two sons, Nat and Alex Wolff, but the film also features theme music composed by her husband, Michael Wolff. The movie even stars the family dog Stella, who unlike her onscreen counterpart, is very much alive and thriving.
The film follows Jack (Nat Wolff) as he returns home from college to attend a celebration for the family’s dying dog, Stella. Jack’s brother Oliver (Alex Wolff) is still in high school and is thrilled about his new relationship with Violet (Paulina Singer), whom Jack comes to realize is the girl he fell in love with at a party and has been obsessing over for a year. This realization causes problems that will ultimately shift the course of the weekend from a simple trip home to a series of unfortunate events for both brothers.
What holds the film back, however, is that all the characters are incredibly unlikable. Jack is continuously monotone and lacks emotion, except in his pivotal dramatic moments. Oliver is so overly loud, obnoxious and hyperactive that it is hard to see him as anything but those defining traits. Violet is naive and doesn’t seem to think about anyone but herself. Sally (Draper) is what I can only describe as a manic pixie dream mom. Each character has their moments, but it is difficult not to cringe as their quirky personalities all try to interact with each other.
The actors do try their best with the given material. The semblance of the relationships are present, but the actors can’t get past the nature of their characters and how they are written. The script is best described as choppy and awkward. I remember thinking during the first scene that nobody actually talks like the brothers do, a notion that never went away. It feels as if the script was written by a parent trying to emulate how the youths talk nowadays. Maybe it’s because it was crafted by a mother of two young adults or perhaps that is just how the Draper-Wolff family are in their daily lives. Either way, the viewer is lost in the script because of the unnatural and offbeat nature of the film’s dialogue.
“Stella’s Last Weekend” attempts to take a thoughtful look at how relationships make and break us, but it unfortunately fails to create an accurate portrayal. The characters are too unlikeable for the audience to care about their emotions in the moments when they have genuine ones, and the relationship dynamics feel like an inside joke among the close family that the audience is struggling to grasp. It’s always nice to see a family share a passion and work together, but “Stella’s Last Weekend” fails to bring the audience into the world it tries to create.
Email Kaylee DeFreitas at [email protected]