Wendi McLendon-Covey is experiencing a really unique resurgence as an actor. After establishing herself as a quick-witted commedienne on Comedy Central’s Reno 911!, a longstanding role on ABC’s The Goldbergs has propelled her towards more endearing roles. While it’s a different change in pace for McLendon-Covey’s repertoire, she still knows how to bring the laughs. Blush is another career tilt for the actor but, this time, the tone is much darker and stranger than anyone could’ve expected. However, she’s as great as ever.
Debra Eisenstadt’s Blush is a character study about an out-of-touch parent trying to find her own identity. The problem is when Cathy (McLendon-Covey) becomes more vulnerable, she realizes she doesn’t know who she really is. While cat-sitting for her sister, Cathy becomes acquainted with Gemma Jean (Christine Woods), a neighbour who appears distraught but also has achieved a level of confidence that Cathy admires. As Cathy allows herself to grow closer to the family next door and is exposed to their unnerving dysfunction, she starts to see how common it is to get lost behind a disguise.
Wendi McLendon-Covey and writer/director Eisenstadt have an assured understanding of Cathy and her dilemmas. And because they know her well, it allows the team to leave the character in discouraging situations to find unconventional humour around her. McLendon-Covey and Eisenstadt strike gold, but it’s not always easy. Comedy and tragedy usually go hand in hand, but the characters in Blush are so pitiful, it almost seems impossible to laugh with (or at) these people. Especially when Cathy starts to ignore her own family (Steve Little, Kate Alberts).
But, Blush is also about embracing life’s messes. The film’s momentum is channeled towards psychologically exhausting confrontations involving Cathy and other eccentric personalities. While that may not sound entirely appealing, it’s this extra push that enables the film to find absurdity and strength in times of devastation. The film is certainly guilty of wavering off its path and distracting itself with extra riffs that challenge Cathy’s sexuality. But even during these redundant standstills, Blush continues to be entertaining as audiences remain curious about where the film is headed next.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie