There are very few directorial debuts from actors that absolutely blow people out of the water and shock audiences beyond control. As They Made Us from writer, producer, and director Mayim Bialik is one of those very rare instances. As They Made Us is a tough watch for anyone whose had to see a parent going through their final lap of life, and the challenges that the situation brings with it, lead by an incredible leading cast, As They Made Us is a tour de force.
Abigail (Dianna Agron) is going through a tough divorce and is trying to put her life back together when she gets a call form her mother, Barbara (Candice Bergen) that her father Eugene (Dustin Hoffman) isn’t doing so well. The film doesn’t explicitly say what Eugene is suffering from but it appears to be dementia or Alzheimer’s. Barbara is rather hostile with any of the personal service workers she has in her house who are there to help Eugene, and as Eugene’s condition gets worse, it all falls on the shoulders of Abigail to hold her family together and get her mother to accept the facts for what they are. What makes it even harder for Abigail, is that she does have a brother Nathan (Simon Helberg) but the relationship between her and her brother is fractured, but not as fractured as it is between the parents and him. This leads to a tense family drama that is not for the faint of heart.
What makes As They Made Us work so well, aside from the clear passion that is put into the direction and storytelling is the brilliant heartbreaking performances. There are such subtle nuances that both Dianna Agron and Simon Helberg deliver in their performances that show the struggle that anyone in this situation goes through. There is just such a subtle heartbreak and mental anguish that overwhelms the characters that they both perfect. As well Candice Bergen and Dustin Hoffman excel as the married couple, with Candice being the wife that refuses to admit that her husband is on his victory lap of life, and Dustin playing the father that is on his last legs losing his battle with his disease. Everyone in this cast absolutely knocks it out of the park and creates one of the most heartbreaking films in recent years.
As They Made Us is a testament to family, packing one hell of a punch that will absolutely destroy its audience. The performances throughout the film are nothing short of hearbreaking and perfect. If this is how Mayim Bialik wants to continue her career after Big Bang Theory, please continue to write direct and produce such incredible films as more movies that can move audiences like this need to exist.