Wednesday, December 7, 2016

All We Had (2016)

Destined to be a footnote film or the answer to a Jeopardy question ALL WE HAD is Katie Holmes directorial debut. Based on Annie Weatherwax's novel of the same name the film follows single mom Rita (Holmes) and he daughter Ruthie (Stefania Owen) as they flee a yet another bad boyfriend. Breaking down in a new town Rita ends up working as a waitress and Ruthie begins to try and sort out her life. Complications arise of course as mother and daughter begin to butt heads.

I don't know what I was expecting going into the film. I know word at Tribeca earlier this year was kind of mixed with many people surprised it turned out as well as it did. I suspect that is partly the result to Holmes having very mixed results with some of her choices to make herself be taken seriously as an actress after being associated with the Tom Cruise circus (MISS MEADOWS anyone?). Word from the people I spoke with back in April was she was a better actress than director. Having seen the film I'm not so certain that is wholly the case.

Let's cut to the chase ALL WE HAD is a perfectly okay inde drama. It is firmly in the middle of the pack of the large body of family dramas.  If you like this sort of a film it's definitely worth seeing.

As a first film as a director, Katie Holmes isn't half bad. Yes she doesn't block scenes or pick shots that gives any indication that she is the next great filmmaker, but in fairness this is her first tie out and there is nothing wrong with her choices. The one place she excels is her handling of the actors. Say what you will Holmes gets super performances from pretty much everyone, including herself. There is a realness and a rawness to her performance that lifts things up. Additionally she has a great rapport with Stefanie Owen who plays her daughter and you can really feel the bond between the women.

If there is any real problem with the film it has to be the script which somehow manages to make what is supposed to be a compelling novel into something that just sort of lies there. I suspect the novel is something that was never going to translate to a screen without some sort of loss as the straight forward telling of the tale sheers away the color of the prose. Of course I could be wrong, but as it is represented here the story is serviceable but unremarkable. (It also echoes films like ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE a bit too much)

All of that said I will be interested to see what Holmes directs next (aside from an episode of a TV miniseries)


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