alone togetherwhich hits theaters on July 22, is a poignant portrait of personal relationships unfolding against the backdrop of a growing pandemic.
Written and directed by Katie Holmes, who displays a keen ear for nuance and character creation on paper, the star’s second feature film behind the camera weaves a story of contemporary themes, which is part social commentary and part relationship drama.
June (Holmes) and John (Derek Luke) are New York natives at a crossroads in their relationship when the lockdown hits. After booking time at an Airbnb, June attempts to travel out of state, but Derek is delayed for personal reasons. Due to the lockdown, she is forced to take a taxi to their remote hideaway, where she meets Charlie (Jim Sturgess) already in residence.
With the place double-booked and no other choice, he reluctantly allows her to stay one night, which the audience might think. alone together could drift towards the stereotype. However, although Holmes devotes time to their odd couple dynamic, at no point does she simplify or manipulate emotions through her creative choices.
June and Charlie carry their own baggage amid this bizarre situation, but the actors lend each character their own unique chemistry. Not only does this make their emotional connection under dire circumstances more believable, but it keeps the film from simply being a platform to discuss America’s failures during the COVID crisis.
With face masks worn in New York locations, Facetime moments between certain characters, and some March 2020 soundbites around lockdown protocols, Holmes fleshes out his story. This, in turn, provides the odd ancillary benefit of making their situation more believable. A connection that begins with words and grows through common interests, but also manages to reflect the extreme emotions that many experienced in reality during this first wave of infection.
This period of re-evaluation, which has led many people to move in new personal and professional directions, combines with the emotional elements to create something special, which manages to embrace all the tropes of a traditional romantic comedy, while still offering enough drama to satisfy those looking for substance. It’s a fine line, but one that Holmes navigates successfully with care and consideration throughout the time of operation.
However, beyond the central relationship, things seem less consistent. John may start out as a central figure, but his absence naturally pushes him to the periphery, reducing Luke to a supporting player. It may have poignant moments involving reconciliation, but these feel filled rather than emotionally organic, a fact that ultimately lessens any impact it has as the film progresses. .
Elsewhere, the relationship between Charlie and June takes on real depth as circumstances bring these two people together. There are lingering shots of intertwined fingers amid classically framed moments of intimacy, which the two actors effortlessly sell. Not only that, but there are moments of genuine humor, which keep things from getting too indulgent or lighthearted.
There are showdowns in the final stages, which indicate where it will all end up, but for some reason that never really matters. Exterior shots of New York natives logging on during lockdown are combined with more personal moments in the characters’ lives, giving alone together the feel of a Woody Allen movie at times, minus its own obsessions and digressions.
Unfortunately, alone together drops the ball at a crucial point, as she attempts to tie things together in a neat story arc. An approach that would be fine in theory, if the audience had more than one scene to connect the dots. This means that as June lives through her reveal and we venture into true rom-com territory, there’s a chance that some of the magic of this moment will be lost.
To say more would be to spoil it for people walking in, but luckily it’s a small issue that can be forgiven. This may throw a temporary tonal key into the works, but overall, alone together really benefits from using traditional storytelling to address broader global concerns. Not only confirming Katie Holmes as an up-and-coming screenwriter, but delivering audiences a post-pandemic drama with emotion, passion and political relevance.