'The Rest of Us' Puts Female Friendship First, Both On- and Off-Screen

"It's so rare that you go into a movie and every major role is a woman," says Heather Graham
'The Rest of Us' Puts Female Friendship First, Both On- and Off-Screen
We all love classic buddy cop movies from the '90s or Judd Apatow bromances from the '00s — but Hollywood still suffers from from a disappointing lack of films about female friendships. If last year's word-of-mouth buzz surrounding Booksmart taught us anything, it's that there's plenty of appetite for relatable comedies starring women.

Right on cue, here's The Rest of Us — a dramedy written by, directed by and starring women.

"It's just cool supporting female filmmakers, female storytelling, the female perspective," says Heather Graham, speaking with Exclaim! in a Toronto hotel room during TIFF. "And having all female leads — it's so rare that you go into a movie and every major role is a woman and there's only one [male] actor in the movie. I don't think that's ever happened in any movie I've ever been in."

Her co-star Jodi Balfour chimes in, "It's the intangible nuances of female relationships and a female perspective of the world, which are really hard to nail if the story is being told by a man. There was so much authenticity, and I think we were all bringing so much to the shoot. To me, it feels very real, it feels very raw, it feels very honest."

The Rest of Us is the directorial debut from Montreal director Aisling Chin-Yee. It explores the surprising bond that forms between a widow (Balfour) and her late husband's ex-wife (Graham). Once rivals, the women and their children end up living in the same the house and dealing with their shared feelings of grief and betrayal — especially as revelations about the late husband's debts and unfaithfulness come to light.

"It's about what's unspoken between people," reflects Graham. "What you're saying to someone and what you're thinking, and uncovering the secrets of what people aren't saying."

The Rest of Us was filmed in North Bay, Ontario, and it's profound in a humble sort of way. It's got a tiny cast, no studio lights, and clocks in at just 80 minutes in length. The emotional story plays out in clever edits and meaningful looks, rather that with explosive melodrama. Everything about the film is very un-Hollywood, and that's what gives it a sense of organic rawness.

Balfour explains, "There are four very real people on screen for an hour and 20 minutes. I loath when the easy 'betrayer' and 'betrayed' dynamic gets polarized and looked at through a black-and-white lens. It really bothers me, personally. For me, it's a wonderful opportunity to reframe that narrative, and for people who have perhaps sat in one or both of those positions to see it in a different light, to see the nuance that exists."

It's a heartfelt story that shows the many ways women can find common ground — whether through simple acts of kindness or even just hating the same shitty dude.

"I think we as women sometimes we see each other as competitors," Graham reflects. "This movie is about having empathy and compassion for other women. We're all on the same team."