‘Divorce: The Greatest Hits’ Nails the Absurdities of a Marriage’s End
Breakups can feel like a “Wrecking Ball,” but that’s just one track on the cinematic mixtape that is Divorce: The Greatest Hits —a new short film from former Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff, directed by (onetime Grey’s guest star) Michael Medico, and starring Krista’s sister Kaili Vernoff (The Path).
After the September 5 premiere of the film at Los Angeles International Shorts Fest, we at Wetpaint had a chance to talk with Kaili about it, including the reason the 15-minute dramedy resonates with authenticity.
“There is much that is true about the film,” Kaili told us. “[Michael] and my sister went through divorces at the same time, so they had lots of material to mine as they talked story.”
Any Grey’s Anatomy fan already knows and loves Krista’s work: In her seven seasons on the show, she wrote or co-wrote such powerful episodes as “Into You Like a Train” (R.I.P. Bonnie), “Six Days: Parts 1 & 2” (R.I.P. Harold O’Malley) and “Crash Into Me: Parts 1 & 2” (R.I.P. Seth Green).
And just like her Grey’s background and her current work as an exec producer on Shameless, Krista’s screenplay for Divorce: The Greatest Hits is often moving, often witty, and always real.
Through nine vignettes themed around nine songs (including one “bonus track” scene with a beautiful payoff), the film shows the anguishes, the indignities, and even the victories of a divorce — as Kaili’s character Karin struggles to extricate her life from that of her neglectful husband (Better Off Ted’s Jay Harrington) with her identity and dignity intact.
And Karin certainly goes through the divorce gauntlet: unwarranted maternal advice ( “You really are going to have to get over your aversion to Botox”), shaming from a fellow mom ( “Look at you right there, sitting there eating gluten”), an embarrassing one-night-stand (“Are we in your parents’ garage?”), and even a custody fight over a piano.
The film features several familiar faces — including Casual’s Michaela Watkins, Rent’s Tracie Thoms, and Awkward’s Beau Mirchoff — but Kaili is the real star, and she gives a performance that will surely make Hollywood sit up and take notice.
In addition to sharing a scene (pictured above) with college friends Peter Paige (Emmett on Queer as Folk, co-creator of The Fosters) and Ray Ford (Luther on Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23, Paramedic Ray on Grey’s) — a scene at which Karin is at her “self-centered worst,” as Kaili says — the actress loved that the production was a family affair.
“I can’t tell you how cool it was to say words that were written by my sister,” she said.
“Because Krista and I are so close I could read the scene just once or twice and be word-perfect on the first take,” she added. “We have very similar speech patterns!”
When the script feels like reality and the set feels like home, the end result is bound to be gold — and Divorce: The Greatest Hits deserves to be a hit in its own right.