The title Soft Fruit could be construed as writer-director Christina Andreef's blunt assessment of the four flailing progeny of a Jackie O-obsessed mother, Patsy (Jeanie Drynan), and a hot-tempered Slavic dad (Linal Haft) in this bittersweet comic drama of familial dysfunction. But Andreef's loving, accepting debut feature celebrates both the beauty of bantering siblings and the brutish realities they ignore with a kind of willing amnesia. Patsy, who is dying of cancer, decides to take control of her life for the first time by taking control of her death. That means bringing her four kids back together (including a parolee son that Dad has banished from the house) and satisfying her fanciful final wishes against doctor's orders. Drynan, who was so sweetly oblivious in Muriel's Wedding, faces her fears and pain with a giddy sense of play, but it's also obvious that she has spent her life avoiding confrontation that could have saved her children from the pain they faced from a punishing father. Andreef's at times chaotic, rambling portrait doesn't hide the jealousies and rivalries and is generously understanding of human weakness in her edgy love-hate conflicts between bickering sisters and a disconnected father and son. Full of inventive imagery, it makes for an edgy black comedy that is often hilarious, at times painful, and periodically awkward and messy. It always rings true. --Sean Axmaker
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