'Peanut Gallery': Slamdance Review

Peanut Gallery - H 2016
Courtesy of Slamdance Film Festival
A moving if overly introspective take on achieving closure.

Produce Molly Gandour and her parents struggle with a past family tragedy in this heartfelt documentary.

Molly Gandour, a producer on the Oscar-nominated documentary, GasLand, turns the camera on herself and her family, Sarah Polley-style, in order to come to terms with the unresolved grief surrounding the 1994 death of her older sister in the painfully personal rumination, Peanut Gallery.

Sixteen years after Aimee Gandour succumbed, at age 14, to a long battle with leukemia, her surviving sibling Molly has returned from New York to her suburban Indiana childhood home for a six-week visit with her parents, in the hope of finally moving past unspoken familial feelings of guilt and resentment.

Interweaving their uncomfortable therapy sessions with equally-strained dinner-table exchanges, as well as copious home video footage, Gandour’s story will certainly strike a chord with anyone who has lost a loved one to the ravages of cancer.

But while the film is often heartbreaking, particularly when sharing hopeful entries in the ailing Aimee’s journals, Gandour’s first-person confessional ironically could have stood a little more perspective where the needlessly repetitive assembly was concerned.

Rather than have multiple sequences of Molly and her parents sitting around the table, eating their salad in silence for example, a single scene would have still spoken volumes about the family’s long pent-up emotions.

Just as with healing, a little distance can be of equal value in the editing room.

Production company: Knoll Crest

Director: Molly Gandour

Producers: Molly Gandour, Frances Harlow

Director of photography: Molly Gandour

Editors: Molly Gandour and Ali Muney

Music: Nathan Larson

Venue: Slamdance Film Festival


92 minutes