‘Raymond and Ray’ Review: Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke Should Play Brothers More Often

Raymond and Ray movie poster
©Apple TV+

In a film where Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight) play brothers, there should have been far more scenes with the two of them. Additionally, or better yet, the film should have allowed their quiet moments to guide the narrative consistently. Rodrigo García’s Raymond and Ray has a solid beginning but stumbles through the middle when it tries to focus too intricately on nudging the audience on what to expect instead of showing it. And sure, to a degree, that’s what it needs to do as a story that centers around grief, but with astounding performers like McGregor and Hawke, a meatier script could have worked wonders.

The cast does all the heavy lifting, while the dark comedy attempts to make the plot more gripping than it is. In a nutshell, Raymond and Ray follows two half-brothers to their late, abusive father’s funeral, where a few last-minute requests bring them together for a bit longer than a few hours. He insists that they be the ones to dig up his grave to bury him while people from his present surface to give the brothers notes about what their father’s life had been like.

Raymond and Ray movie still featuring Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke
©Apple TV+

The markings for a poignant, quietly vulnerable film are all there, but it never quite sticks the landing. So much of the film, again, relies on the cast—alongside the leading actors are Sophie Okonedo, Maribel Verdú, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Maxim Swinton, pushing the narrative beats forward.

Still, while the plot is dreary, McGregor and Hawke as brothers equates to a film worth watching. There’s something so innately natural and warm about how they bring the characters to life, where they take them from beginning to end, and the quiet appreciation they undoubtedly share for one another. There are some fantastic moments between the two that range from bitter, raging brawls, awkward hugs, silent acknowledgments, and genuine compassion that’s easy to pick up right as the film opens despite the apparent detail that they aren’t as close as they could be.

In the end, the film is about brothers realizing that despite the things done to them, at the very least, they had someone else in their corner, even when it felt as though they were alone. Throughout the trauma and turmoil endured, the entire ordeal of the funeral was made more bearable because of the other’s company.

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Thus, despite its shortcomings, what Raymond and Ray ultimately accomplishes is placing two completely different people dealing with the pangs of generational trauma front and center.

If they had merely stayed at Ray’s (Hawke) house (or even at their late father’s) and uncovered everything necessary in the quiet conversations, it would have been a marvel to watch where performances are concerned. It would have dove into some heavy topics, dug up emotional graves, and trenched deeper into the trials of terrible upbringings in a way that would have brought one emotional punch after another instead of further reveals about their father.

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Raymond and Ray is now streaming on Apple TV+.


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