“Imaginary Order” is a film about a woman whose seemingly tidy suburban life begins to unravel as she becomes enmeshed with a neighboring family.
The film stars Wendi McLendon-Covey as Cathy, a mother and wife who has given up her career to be the perfect stay-at-home mom, but as her daughter begins to push her away and her husband seems to no longer connect with her, she becomes enthralled and involved with the messy lives of a neighboring family, causing the order in her life to collapse.
“I thought, ‘this is going to be so much fun to play, I hope I can do it justice,'” McLendon-Covey said during a visit to TheWrap Studios during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. “Something that struck me is, I see a lot of people unraveling like this and they create imaginary order around themselves to give the facade of ‘Look, everything’s great.”
Written and directed by Debra Eisenstadt, “Imaginary Order” premiered at Sundance in the U.S. Drama category of the festival. Eisenstadt drew on her experiences and fears as a mother for the film.
“I think when you’re a mom, and I know this personally, it’s really hard to have a career and be a really good mother,” Eisenstadt said. “And what happens is, if you’re a good mother, your kid doesn’t need you anymore… and she’s at the point where [Cathy’s] daughter is just beginning to push her away and she needs to needed so badly and this family really needs her.”
McLendon-Covey’s character is desperate for some semblance of order, but one by one, the neighboring family — mom (Christine Woods), dad (Graham Sibley) and teenage son (Max Burkholder) — lure Cathy into their lives and send her down a spiral.
McLendon-Covey’s Cathy finds herself in uncomfortable situation after uncomfortable situation, but it’s when she becomes the object of the teenage son’s obsession, he threatens to unravel everything — from her marriage to her daughter’s innocence to her own wavering sanity.
“My takeaway was, the people who have the seemingly tidiest life are all a bunch of freaks, to put it succinctly,” McLendon-Covey said. “Take that Marie Kondo.”