CLOSING NIGHT GALA: BEFORE YOU KNOW ITDirected by Hannah Pearl Utt
In this quirky Sundance favorite, director Hannah Pearl Utt (who also co-wrote and stars) infuses tenderness and complex emotion into the absurd misadventures of Rachel and Jackie, sisters living a dysfunctional life in New York City. If only Rachel didn’t have to take care of her extended family living above their small theater in Greenwich Village, maybe she could finally take a woman out on a second date. Between attempting to stage her playwright father Mel’s potential comeback production and constantly monitoring actress/hot mess Jackie, not to mention keeping an eye on Jackie’s precocious 12-year-old daughter Dodge, pragmatic — and slightly controlling — Rachel is barely keeping things afloat, never mind going after something meaningful of her own. But things really go off the rails when a tragedy puts their home and theater at risk, and the sisters learn the mother they thought was dead is not only alive, but also the veteran star of a popular soap opera.
Utt’s winning comedy is grounded by an incredible cast, including co-writer Jen Tullock, Alec Baldwin, Tim Daly, and Mike Colter, and features memorable turns by Judith Light as Rachel and Jackie’s vain, estranged mother and Mandy Patinkin as their misanthropic father. A worthy entry in the pantheon of NYC comedies, Before You Know It charms as it tackles extreme codependence, madcap hijinks, and familial dynamics with hilarity and poignancy.
Hannah Pearl Utt is best known for the digital series, Disengaged, which she directed for Super Deluxe as co-creator, writer and star, alongside frequent collaborator Jen Tullock. Their short film Partners premiered at Sundance in 2016. In 2017, Utt was selected for the inaugural Catalyst Women Initiative and the 2017 Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs. She is currently in development with Sundance Now for Sweet Relief, the half-hour dramedy she co-created. Hannah was a 2018 Adrienne Shelley Foundation Women Filmmakers Grant recipient. Before You Know It marks Utt’s feature directorial debut.