Other People (film)

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Other People
Other People film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Kelly
Written byChris Kelly
Produced by
CinematographyBrian Burgoyne
Edited byPatrick Colman
Music byJulian Wass
  • Park Pictures
  • Gettin' Rad Productions
Distributed byVertical Entertainment
Release date
  • January 21, 2016 (2016-01-21) (Sundance)
  • September 9, 2016 (2016-09-09) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$91,441[1]

Other People is a 2016 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Chris Kelly in his feature directorial debut. The film stars Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford, Maude Apatow, Madisen Beaty, John Early, Zach Woods, Josie Totah[a], and June Squibb. It is a semi-autobiographical look at Kelly's family.

The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2016.[2] The film was released on September 9, 2016, by Vertical Entertainment.[3]


David Mulchaney (Jesse Plemons), a struggling comedy writer, moves to Sacramento to take care of his mother Joanne (Molly Shannon), who has been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer. The film takes place over a year, following the Mulchaney family as they deal with Joanne's cancer diagnosis.

Moving into his childhood home, David reunites with his conservative father Norman (Bradley Whitford), and his two younger sisters Alexandra (Maude Apatow) and Rebeccah (Madisen Beaty). David has a strained relationship with his father, who refuses to accept David's sexuality ten years after he came out. It is revealed that David had recently broken up with his boyfriend, Paul (Zach Woods). Not wanting to upset his mother, David tells the family they are still together. David also reunites with his high school friend Gabe (John Early), meeting Gabe's flamboyant adopted brother Justin (Josie Totah) in the process. Meanwhile, Joanne continues with chemotherapy, though she strongly dislikes the treatment and eventually decides to quit when the chemo proves to be ineffective. While talking to David about her decision to quit, Joanne apologizes to him for her initial reaction to him coming out; David forgives her.

In July, Joanne and the family take a trip to New York to watch David's improv show. David meets an artistic director at the show, who informs him about a new ABC show staffing for writers. Encouraged by the news, David begins working on a spec script. Meanwhile, after consulting with Paul, David invites the family to Paul's apartment under the guise that they are still in a relationship; Norman is uncomfortable with entering the apartment and instead stays behind. This dismays David, who believed Norman had started to become more accepting of his sexuality. David spends the night with Paul and they end up having sex.

In October, Joanne's health is rapidly deteriorating, and she is put in hospice. David struggles to deal with Joanne's inevitable death; while buying medicine for Joanne at a grocery store, David experiences a brief breakdown in front of an employee. During a mass service, David angrily walks out upon finding out another writer was given the ABC position. When Norman confronts David outside the church, an enraged David reveals his breakup with Paul, points out Norman's refusal to acknowledge his sexuality, and questions what the future will be like after Joanne passes away. He instructs his father that when Joanne dies, Paul will be coming to visit. One night, Joanne accidentally slips in the shower and is assisted by David. The two share a small moment, with Joanne thanking him for moving to Sacramento, and confiding to him about her future death. Joanne reveals that she sees herself in each of her children, and tells David: "When you miss me and you want to see me, you just come home and see your sisters." David tearfully promises to take care of Alexandra and Rebeccah and embraces his mother.

In December, Joanne—surrounded by her family—passes away on her deathbed. Norman pays for Paul's plane ticket to Sacramento. The film ends with David joining Norman, Alexandra and Rebeccah in a bedroom, where they are all sleeping.



The film is loosely based on Kelly's own mother's death in 2009.[4] Kelly chose to deliberately start the film by showing Molly Shannon's character dying "because I didn’t want the movie to be about, 'Well, does she or doesn’t she?'" also noting that it sets the tone for the rest of the movie.[4] Shannon was an early choice for Kelly although his managers expressed doubt about this happening from an early stage. Kelly noted that Shannon in the film resembles his own mother: "I don’t look at the movie and see my dad as that, or myself, or my sisters, but I do see my mom, and it was kind of accidental," adding that he had felt weird directing her due to the similarities.[4] Sissy Spacek was originally attached to play Joanne.[5]


The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival on January 21.[6] It was the opening night film at the San Diego International Film Festival[7] and the closing night film at OUTFEST.[8] It also played at film festivals in Dallas,[9] Sarasota,[10] Seattle,[11] Nantucket,[12] Sundance London[13] Prague and Brno.[14]

In February 2016, Netflix acquired worldwide streaming rights to the film. At the same time, Vertical Entertainment picked up the North American theatrical rights for the film and plans on releasing the film in the fall for a campaign targeted at the 2017 Oscars.[15] The film was released on September 9, 2016.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Other People received positive reviews from critics. It holds an 85% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 59 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Other People resists easy melodrama, rewarding viewers with a smart, subtle look at family dynamics with a talented cast and a finely calibrated blend of funny and serious moments."[16] On Metacritic, the film holds a rating of 68 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17]

In its review of the film, The Hollywood Reporter stated, "Ably playing the loving son, a comedy writer quietly worrying that his life is falling apart even without having Mom's cancer in the picture, Jesse Plemons delivers on the promise he has shown in so many supporting roles since his Friday Night Lights breakthrough."[18] New York magazine praised Shannon's performance and the supporting performance of Totah, describing his performance as follows: "The child actor is only featured in two of Other People's scenes—he plays the flamboyant younger brother of Plemons’s best friend—but he makes the goddamn most of them: Totah waltzes into his first scene casually hitting on the far-older Plemons, then spends his second scene in drag, staging an over-the-top, twerk-filled performance for his bemused family."[19]


Molly Shannon won Best Supporting Female at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards while Jesse Plemons was nominated for Best Male Lead; Chris Kelly for Best First Screenplay; and Chris Kelly, Sam Bisbee, Adam Scott, and Naomi Scott for Best First Feature.[20] The film won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the Nantucket Film Festival.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Credited as J. J. Totah; she came out as transgender in 2018.


  1. ^ "Other People". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  2. ^ Justin Chang. "'Other People' Review: Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons Play Mother and Son - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  3. ^ Watkins, Gwyenne (July 8, 2016). "Molly Shannon's Buzzy Sundance Drama 'Other People': Watch Exclusive Trailer". Yahoo.com. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Erbland, Kate. "Sundance: How 'SNL' Writer Chris Kelly Turned His Personal Pain Into a Festival Opener". Indiewire. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Jesse Plemons to Play Gay 'SNL' Writer in Real 'SNL' Writer's Directorial Debut (Exclusive)". The Wrap. October 13, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Ramin Setoodeh; Brent Lang. "'Other People' Starring Molly Shannon Brings Sundance to Tears - Variety". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  7. ^ Accomando, Beth. "Newly Rebranded San Diego International Film Festival Kicks Off Tonight". KPBS Public Media. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  8. ^ a b Romano, Nick (July 8, 2016). "Other People trailer: Molly Shannon and Jesse Plemons struggle with cancer and acceptance". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Erbland, Kate (2016-03-03). "Dallas International Film Festival Unveils Official Selections, Including 'Weiner' and 'Other People'". IndieWire. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  10. ^ "Sarasota Film Festival Announces Line-up of Movies and Stars". Sarasota Magazine. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  11. ^ "Q&A with actress Molly Shannon and Chris Kelly, director of Other People". www.siff.net. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  12. ^ a b "Nantucket Film Festival: 'Other People' and 'Life, Animated' Win Audience Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  13. ^ "Sundance Film Festival: London Programme Announced: Picturehouse Central Hosts Feature Films, Short Films And Special Events From 2 – 5 June 2016". www.sundance.org. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  14. ^ "Other People". Mezipatra Queer Film Festival. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  15. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin; Lang, Brent (February 24, 2016). "Netflix Buys Molly Shannon Cancer Dramedy 'Other People'". Variety. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Other People (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "Other People". Metacritic. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  18. ^ DeFore, John. "'Other People': Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  19. ^ Buchanan, Kyle. "You Need to Meet the 14-Year-Old Who Won Sundance". Vulture. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  20. ^ "Spirit Award Winners". Retrieved February 26, 2017.

External links[edit]