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review

For 108 fascinating minutes, we eavesdrop as the family joke and bicker, hear how they love one another, and see how they push each other’s buttons.Wilson Webb/Courtesy of Mongrel Media

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The Humans

Written and directed by Stephen Karam

Starring Richard Jenkins, Steven Yeun and Amy Schumer

Classification R; 108 minutes

Available digitally on-demand starting Nov. 26

Critic’s Pick

The writer’s adage that the specific is universal comes fully alive in this family drama, written and directed by Stephen Karam, based on his Tony-winning play. Six noisy relatives gather in New York’s Chinatown at the new, still-empty, slightly grungy apartment of Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and her boyfriend Richard (Steven Yeun). Mom (Jayne Houdyshell, who also starred on Broadway), dad (Richard Jenkins) and grandma (June Squibb) have driven in from Scranton; big sister Aimee (Amy Schumer) has a few crises on the go.

For 108 fascinating minutes, we eavesdrop as they joke and bicker; we hear how they love one another, and see how they push each other’s buttons. After all, no one can nail you like your family.

Karam, making his feature directorial debut, keeps all six in motion, and his overlapping dialogue is sharp and delightful. Sometimes his direction is a bit frustrating – to create intimacy, he sets his actors at far- and middle-distance, as well as in close-up, so we sometimes feel we’re missing things. But that’s also the point: We lean in, and we’re rewarded for it.

In The Humans, Erik Blake (Richard Jenkins) has gathered three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s Manhattan apartment, but as darkness falls the group’s deepest fears are laid bare.Wilson Webb/Courtesy of Mongrel Media

In the interest of consistency across all critics’ reviews, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre to align with coverage of music, books, visual arts and dance. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a Critic’s Pick designation across all coverage.

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