Following a four-year hiatus, Michelle Pfeiffer makes her acting return taking the titular role in Andrew Dosunmu’s slow-burning drama Where is Kyra? Poverty-stricken Kyra lives in Brooklyn with her elderly ailing mother Ruth (Suzanne Shepherd) and struggles to make ends meet as she hunts for a job. After suffering a loss, she drowns her sorrows in the local drinking den where she meets lowly caretaker Doug (Kiefer Sutherland). The pair make a connection, bonding over their hardship, but Kyra’s desperate need for cash soon leads her to take a treacherous risk.
There is a strong, visually arresting style that comes from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young’s striking aesthetics, most of the interior shots lit only by lamps to give a melancholy atmosphere that compliments the bleak subject matter. Philip Miller’s score is equally as experimental and goes into an otherworldly overdrive with strange screeching sounds as Kyra’s despair gradually intensifies. These showy filmmaking techniques distract from the paper-thin plot for a while, but the narrative’s painfully meandering pace unfortunately becomes boring and repetitive pretty quickly.
Pfeiffer is well cast as the lead, sporting a harsh and hardened exterior that works as a mask against her inner trauma, and she and Sutherland both make the most of the minimalistic material and sparse dialogue they have to work with. However, the experienced performances can only carry Where is Kyra? so far and there just isn’t enough of a story to captivate throughout.