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Pedro Pascal Weirds Everyone Out in ‘The Uninvited’

SXSW
SXSW

There should be no party in the world where Pedro Pascal is off the guest list. He seems like a super-fun guy, right? I’d get a drink with him. But Pascal doesn’t get the opportunity to RSVP in The Uninvited, a psychological comedy premiering at SXSW that sees him playing whatever the guest of honor is. A bunch of Hollywood socialites are throwing a gaudy soiree when Pascal, an ex-lover of the host, crashes with a woman who can’t figure out where the hell she is. Okay, sure—sounds like my kind of party!

Married couple Rose (Elizabeth Reaser), an actress, and Sammy (Walton Goggins), a producer, are throwing a flashy party to catch up with some important people in their lives, including a big-time director and an up-and-coming actress. Sammy is stressed to the max—this party is going to be a big deal, because he’s going to convince the director in attendance, Gerald (Rufus Sewell) to sign onto this new project with the starlet, Delia (Eva De Dominici), at the party. Sammy and Rose have a chaotic, sexy, mean-spirited connection; they insult each other as often as they compliment, they rely on the other frequently but are never around for support.

Although Pascal as Lucien, the ex-boyfriend arrives later, he’s technically not the uninvited. Sammy asks his rival to come, although Rose is completely displeased with the idea that both of her main love interests will be in the same space in one night. The actual party crasher here is Helen (Lois Smith), an elderly woman who has lost her way, believing that Rose and Sammy’s home is her own, and that her husband has gone missing from the premises. With little-to-no help from Sammy, who would rather entertain the arriving guests than deal with this needy old woman, Rose escorts Helen into their home and attempts to find someone to come pick her up.

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While the party rages on the outdoor patio of Rose and Sammy’s mansion, Helen reveals more and more about what’s going on in her life. She shares a frightening connection with this couple—her husband, who we later find out died a few years ago (news Helen has yet to understand), was also named “Sammy,” for example—and has some life lessons to impart on the people of the party. Unfortunately, everyone except Rose wants to ignore Helen, treating her like a lifeless dud, so Rose is the only one who actually takes anything away from their cosmic bond.

Lucien only appears in the back half of the film, playing a quieter, less intense version of the role Pascal usually plays. Rose can’t deny how intoxicated she feels when she sees the man of her past—this duo is brilliant on screen together, as are Goggins and Reaser; but the real award for best couple goes to Reaser and Smith. If The Uninvited were to be a rom-com, it would not be about a woman falling deeper in love with her husband, nor would it be a second chance romance. The movie would follow a woman, Rose, as she connects brilliantly with a similar soul for a short, everlasting period of time—with Helen.

Goggins’ wife, director Nadia Conners, expertly organizes a stellar ensemble cast. The dialogue, ranging from bitter snapping to tender emotional revelations, is the most incredible part of The Uninvited, which, by the third act, becomes a character study on Rose and the idealized world around her. Is she a good mother? Did she marry the right man? Is she following the right career? Why was she, out of everyone at this party, the only one to pay any mind to Helen, a real woman with real struggles?

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The comedy is really the only faltering bit of The Uninvited, which occasionally relies too much on “I hate my husband!” and “Hollywood bigshots are quite vain.” That said, when the world around them is as dreamy as it is in The Uninvited—which is so gorgeous, it’s dream board worthy—it makes quite a bit of sense that they’d have big heads about everything in life. Still, the film works best when it’s a psychological drama or a deeper look at certain characters (particularly Rose, although Sammy gets his time, too) instead of a biting satire about the entertainment industry.

With The Uninvited, come for an exorbitant amount of splashy interiors and glamorous dresses, stay for Pascal, whose charm never overstays its welcome. Visually stunning and downright moving during its best parts, the film is an ode to the growing pains that still continue to plague humans as they approach middle age. Would we, with a wise soothsayer able to correct our wrongs before they happen, actually be able to be mistake free?

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