2021 Sundance Review: Marvelous and the Black Hole

2021 Sundance Review: Marvelous and the Black Hole


Director(s): Kate Tsang

Writer(s): Kate Tsang

Cast: Miya Cech, Rhea Pearlman

Synopsis: A teenage delinquent (Miya Cech) teams up with a surly children’s party magician (Rhea Perlman) to navigate her dysfunctional family and inner demons.

Marvelous and the Black Hole was the Sundance reset I needed. For the most part, this festival has been a heavy and difficult one, and this movie was an innocent and sweet feel-good film. Was I wanting more out of it, absolutely, but I wasn’t upset with the easy watch that we got.

Sammy (Miya Cech) is an angsty teenager still mourning over the loss of her mother. Miya brings this fire to Sammy, that’s a mix of badass and hurt, in the way she carries herself throughout the film. She is strong and independent, but she also needs people in her life to help guide her.

That is where the Marvelous Margot (Rhea Pearlman) comes in as this burst of light and energy that Sammy needs in her life. Sammy is in mourning, and denial of her father’s newfound love, but Margot reminds her of what it means to be a part of a family. Pearlman is fantastic, and she is such a joy to watch on screen. She gives the best performance of the movie by far.

The story seems a little far fetched. Sammy, who I believe is 13, is having to choose between spending her summer in a Community College Business class, where she is by far the youngest person, or going off to a military type of school that is supposed to straighten angsty teens out. The whole premise behind this film just felt oversaturated in its ultimatum. It also became increasingly more predictable throughout as I was audibly mentioning things that would happen by the end of the film. The plot of this movie felt very straightforward and easy to digest, which gave me the feeling that this was more in line with a Disney Channel original than an Eighth Grade.

However, the chemistry between Cech and Pearlman is the main ticket item for this film and it is easily the best part of it. The two are able to bounce off each other in a very natural sort of way, and even though it seems rushed, you can feel it is authentic. The film, for all its formulaic tellings, does build up to a very satisfying emotional climax. One that should still bring a tear to your eye, even if you saw it coming. I wanted just a little more out of it, but that doesn’t mean I was upset with the final outcome being a more sweet and tender film.

Final: Marvelous and the Black Hole is a sweet and delightful movie about an angsty teenager. While it may not break new ground, it is still a fun and delightful coming-of-age story. Rhea Pearlman is fantastic, and the emotional climax of the movie works really well.

Grade: B

2021 Sundance Coverage

2021 Film Rankings

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nanu Segal

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