Kendra and Beth, an unusual character study

Kate Lyn Sheil in Kendra and Beth

Kendra and Beth is an indie from writer and director Dean Peterson. It looks at the lives of some unique characters in Minneapolis as they navigate grief and life’s surprises.

Kendra and Beth focuses on Beth (Kate Lyn Sheil) and her eccentric family. Kendra (Eleanore Pienta) comes along and shakes things up.

Beth is in her 30s. She works in a sausage factory shipping department, hoisting heavy boxes of sausages all day while putting up with a crew of sexist men. She goes to work. She goes home to deliver food to her ailing mother (Catherine Curtin) and her 35 year old brother Robbie (Whitmer Thomas), who lives in the basement. The next day she does it all again.

The family is mourning the loss of their father and husband, each in very different ways. Robbie spends all his time making art. Mother watches Julia Roberts movies over and over again while keeping the memorial to her late husband in perfect condition. Beth has numbed out.

Eleanore Pienta in Kendra and Beth

One day Beth notices Kendra yelling into her phone at a bus stop. Kendra approaches Beth about her listening in to a private conversation. They go out for a drink. They start spending time together. Kendra is open and sexual. Beth is inexperienced and frightened.

They have sex. Well, it’s assumed they do. The part of the film where this is assumed to happen is a few seconds of black screen. It really would have helped us understand Beth if we could have seen how it went. It was her first time with anybody – male or female. Kendra is a one night and done kind of woman. Beth is not. Beth is flummoxed about what she’s supposed to feel and do with her new emotions and experiences.

Falling for Kendra and seeing Kendra’s reactions to her oddball family dynamic wakes Beth up from her numbed state of grief. She finds buried emotions of love, anger, jealousy, righteous indignation, and depression.

There are many surprises and dark comedy reveals in this film, I won’t tell you more because they are perfectly timed and delivered. Beth’s family can deliver the unexpected.

This is a low budget indie with lesser known actors. It probably won’t make any top 10 lists, but it gave us some unforgettable characters to think about. I consider it a success. It’s streaming on Prime and Tubi.

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