Raymond & Ray review – Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke wasted in meagre comedy-drama

The pair play estranged brothers reuniting on a road trip in a sentimental and silly film which wastes everybody’s acting talents

Here is a terribly meagre experience from writer-director Rodrigo García, a silly, pointless movie which never delivers on its promises of drama and comedy and contains not a single funny or believable moment. As a filmic meal, it is pretty much entirely without nutritional or calorific value.

Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke play Raymond and Ray, half-brothers who had lost touch with each other. One is in a boring office job, the other is a construction worker who has abandoned his talent as a jazz musician – both are losers. Their father was an abusive and neglectful bully who gave them the same name out of whimsical spite and, when this much-loathed man dies, they receive an invitation via his lawyer to attend the funeral. There is money for them in his will, on the condition that they dig his grave personally, with specially provided shovels. Is the old villain messing with their heads one last time?

Maybe. Or maybe there’s some bittersweet redemption going on, as the brothers begin to reconnect during their road trip to the ceremony. Raymond finds a spark with his father’s glamorous and stylish girlfriend Lucia (Maribel Verdú) – which might make amends for a certain terrible wrong which his dad once did him – and Ray hangs out with his father’s nurse Kiera, played by the estimable Sophie Okonedo.

The trite sentimental silliness jingles on, wasting a substantial array of acting talent. Raymond and Ray find out they have zany siblings they knew nothing about, a discovery without meaning or dramatic weight. There is a refusal of sentimentality in the way Kiera and Ray’s budding relationship is handled, but it ultimately feels as negligible as everything else in the action.

• Raymond & Ray is released on 21 October on Apple TV+.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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