Writer/Director Natalie Rodriguez has spent her career spotlighting violence, trauma, and mental health issues–all important factors of The Extraordinary Ordinary, her first feature endeavor. Carefully highlighting the honest truths of PTSD and trauma-related stress illness, the film delicately walks the tightrope of trauma and drama–without pulling any gimmicks or goofy tropes along the way. The Extraordinary Ordinary quickly made its way through the festival and award ranks, earning its fair share of accolades and accreditations. 

Erica (Maddison Bullock) is a budding photography prodigy, making her way across the country to study her passion – and escape her past. Trauma and triggers, however, never stay where you want them too – and in spite of budding friendship, and romance, the cracks begin to show, and the dirty fingerprints left behind by her abusers aren’t so easily washed away. 

Bullock has a quiet, understated strength and vulnerability as Erica – balanced well by the quirky, loud best friend she finds in Ana Marte as Bianca. Bianca’s adopted brother, Alex (Alex Montalban) provides a shockingly deep and nuanced love interest and confidante to Erica – showing emotion and susceptibility in spades even as he plays the perfect college-dude-in-shining-armor. Their friendship as a trio is believable and meaningful, and like a real friendship, isn’t so cut and dry as a strictly platonic friendship. Multi-way flirtations and affections reminded me of my own high school and college relationships, and reveal a very real, raw, true life quality of the writing and direction of this film — both provided by award winning multi-hyphenate Natalie Rodriguez.

While our main trio has their charms, and play their unique characters to the absolute peak of their abilities, the supporting cast tends to fall either grotesquely flat or into a bizarre funhouse mirror of caricature rather than character. Erica’s mother, played by Della Lisi Kerr, for example, falls too far into unsympathetic and cold territory – which brutally maims the overwhelmingly sympathetic and sincere overtones of the film. TV and film favorite John Posey plays her father, who is more of a stoic pillar than an emotionally impactful character. Whether this is an issue of acting or writing, I will leave to the viewer.

As an assault survivor myself, films like The Extraordinary Ordinary are crucial to getting these stories told, and understood. Putting female voices and writers at the forefront is also the only way to properly tell these stories – and it’s oh so right to see it handled with grace and dignity here. With it’s faults, this film is still something unbelievably important, that will hopefully break the ice on difficult conversations about abuse and mental health that are too often silenced in the greater media.

6 out of 10


The Extraordinary Ordinary
Runtime: 1 Hr. 34 Mins.
Directed By:
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Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.
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