We learn though flashbacks that Emeline and Eve fell on opposite ends of the enabling spectrum when Sunny was alive. Angry, critical, and vocal Emeline and passive enabler extraordinaire Eve are roles quite deftly inhabited by Lobit and Kresge.
Emeline eventually leaves, becoming a transient backpacker throughout Southeast Asia while Eve diligently stays near home. But when Emeline receives a letter from one of Sunny's friends after her death, the sisters embark on a journey through some seedy L.A. parts to retrieve a mystery package left for them. The journey is a bit wayward, with fights, attacks, and jumpy characters that flit in and out. As a device to create a disorienting mission, it works. But for the viewer, they can serve as distractions to the heart of the film which lies in the sisters' internal journey of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Things We Carry offers a thoughtful, moody glimpse into the dynamics between family members whose lives revolve around another's addiction, though any insight into how Sunny's addiction developed in the first place would been a welcome extra layer of depth. There is an interesting angle that focuses momentarily on the sisters' hapa identity (with a great scene involving a bitchy Korean restaurant waitress) and their parents' marriage, but it flashes by leaving us wanting more.
The Things They Carry is showing this Thursday, October 22, 9:45 pm at the UltraStar Theater as part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.