Metacritic (8/10), Letterboxd (4/5), Imdb.com (8/10), TMDB.com (4/5)

Acceptance, reconciliation and forgiveness are arguably among the hardest feelings for many of us to deal with, but coming to terms with them is by no means impossible. When Monica (Trace Lysette), a transgender woman kicked out by her family as an adolescent, leaves her Midwestern home and heads to California to start a new life, she struggles to get by. And, after years of effort, she indeed manages to work it out for the most part. But, years later, when Monica’s sister-in-law (Emily Browning) informs her that her long-estranged mother (Patricia Clarkson) is terminally ill, she’s torn about what to do. Should she ignore the news or step up as a dutiful child? She reluctantly relents and heads back to Ohio to help care for the woman who threw her out of the house, a situation made more complex by the fact that her mother’s malignant brain tumor has seriously affected her memory, leaving her unaware of the identity of the new caregiver who has suddenly appeared in her life. Writer-director Andrea Pallaoro’s third feature outing presents a deftly nuanced, sensitively handled story of a family painfully torn apart trying to put itself back together again under trying circumstances and while there’s still time. The pacing comes across as somewhat slow (undoubtedly by design), so those expecting material that moves along at a brisk, breezy clip may not find it to their liking, but, given the profound nature of the subject matter, it suits the narrative perfectly. There are admittedly a few plotline gaps here and there, but they’re more than adequately compensated for by the film’s superb ensemble cast, razor-sharp writing and gorgeous, atmospheric cinematography. “Monica” may not have received much fanfare upon its theatrical release earlier this year, but this fine streaming offering is well worth the time, providing viewers with a moving cinematic experience that many of us can probably relate to – and whose wisdom should be thoughtfully considered should the need arise in one’s life.