Where Is Kyra? ★★★½

Bradford Young takes too many lumps for pulling back lighting in the films on which he's the cinematographer. Here, he and director Andrew Dosunmu use dimness as a study in the discernibility, shrouding and minimizing of identity and self-worth. It's masterful work to express frailty and fragility, folded into a story of fraud that uses the prolonging of life and the perpetuation of appearance as its springboard. It's a slow-motion car crash at which we can only rubberneck, and the important thing is that Dosunmu, Young and screenwriter Darci Picoult never feel like they're playing at poverty and desperation in the way these endeavors often do - especially when they star people as famous as Michelle Pfeiffer and Kiefer Sutherland. What you're staring at feels like a legitimately woeful, terrible thing. Neither performer cares about laying themselves bare here for a vulnerable intensity. Pfeiffer turns in her finest work in more than a quarter-century as a woman whose beauty and charm have exhausted their value in the workplace and in life itself - reduced to the functionary role of keeping her mother alive. Sutherland, meanwhile, expresses a gentleness of which you might have never thought him capable. This is sort of what "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" could have gone for instead of maintaining the bankability and usual personae of its two leads. Philip Miller's lurching, Waits-ian wheeze on the soundtrack hurtles you into an increasingly, distressingly deeper state of unease, and it all builds to a final shot that - with all of Young's purposeful flashes, tendrils and flares - offers a definitive, heartbreaking answer to the title's question.