It seems Felicity Huffman has become something of an easy target over the last few months.
Her role in a nationwide college entrance exam scandal last year landed her a two week prison sentence, a $30,000 fine, and months spent as joke fodder for late-night hosts.
Did she deserve it? Well, that’s largely up to the public to decide. But I can say one thing. Huffman has been a force in the entertainment industry for years.
From an Oscar nomination for Transamerica to the Golden Globes with American Crime and an Emmy win for Desperate Housewives, Huffman has long been respected for her craft.
It’s then a strange parallel that this she embodies this off-kilter, mess of a mother just as attention is on her difficult public life.
Tammy MacDonald (Huffman) is an alcoholic nobody, with a daughter she never took care of, lungs she’s coated in cigarette smoke for 40 years, and a life she tries to end on a local bridge every month when the welfare runs out.
Young Catherine (the melancholic and sublime Anastasia Phillips) brings her mother from the ledge both metaphorically and physically each and every time, becoming more entrenched in her sad existence with every rescue.
Catherine dreams of a better life, but when her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she moves in to take care of the parent who never nurtured her. It’d all be a very depressing affair, if not for a star-making performance by Phillips, who gleams with cautious hope for her character in important moments.
Huffman’s performance is a haywire, go-for-broke affair that, frankly, deserves an Oscar nod if she’s forgiven for her personal transgressions.
Tammy’s Always Dying is a masterful drama with characters who you can’t help but invest in. It’s a comeback for Huffman and an absolute triumph of a performance for Phillips.
Overall, it’s one of the most interesting films to come out of this strange year, and one that’s sure to captivate viewers.