We’re getting to the point where it’s no longer notable when a film sets itself during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Initially, it was a big deal, and even something that could border on the tasteless, especially if done well. By now, however, it’s just another filmmaking tool for an independent storyteller. With Alone Together, the premise isn’t insistent on the pandemic in order for the movie to work, but it works as a raising of the stakes. What otherwise would have been a disposable indie is given a bit of weight here. Now, it’s still a bit too thin of a flick to recommend, but it’s one of the more interesting examples of using COVID as a storytelling device.
Alone Together continues Katie Holmes‘ evolution as a filmmaker. She’s telling small stories, at least for now, but she’s clearly honing her craft. This movie also shows off how well she directs herself, proving that she’s a solid judge of her own skills, at least. While this film is a mixed bag, overall, it has enough evidence that Holmes is going places as a filmmaker, in addition to continuing to evolve as an actress.
Set in March of 2020, right as New York City is about to lock down due to COVID-19, we meet food critic June (Holmes) as she’s preparing to go upstate, hoping to escape the impending craziness. The Airbnb was booked by her boyfriend (Derek Luke) and she’s having a thought time getting out of the city, so she’s rather frazzled. Then, on the way up, she finds out that he’s staying in town to look after his parents. As if that doesn’t bug her enough, when she arrives at the home, she finds out Charlie (Jim Sturgess) is already there. Apparently, it’s been double-booked. At wit’s end, June initially tries to get Charlie to leave, before opting to share the space. It’s supposed to only be for a bit, so she’s frosty to him, but as it becomes clear that they’re going to be in the house for a bit, the ice thaws.
As the two spend time together, a bond begins to form. Is it friendship? Is it love? Will they even get a chance to find out? Those questions, as well as what happens when June’s boyfriend arrives upstate at last, I’lll leave for you to discover. That being said, you likely know what kind of a film you’re watching, so make of that what you will.
Katie Holmes and Jim Sturgess do display a solid chemistry with each other, even if the performances have a bit of a halting nature to them. Holmes ever so gently skewers a specific type of New York City woman, while Sturgess just plays a nice guy. I wish there was more to his role, but when they’re together, they bring out the best in each other. Melissa Leo (in a small role) and the aforementioned Derek Luke however, are largely wasted. Supporting players here include Becky Ann Baker, Zosia Mamet (wasted), and more, though this is often just a two-hander between Holmes and Sturgess.
Writer/director Katie Holmes has more than enough aptitude to craft something truly compelling. She’s just not fully there yet, even though there’s plenty to like here, even the issues do stick out. The characters are lived in, if a bit too thinly drawn. Holmes the writer doesn’t put forth quite enough originality in Alone Together, though Holmes the director is certainly showing off a confidence behind the camera that’s more than admirable.
Alone Together has a very kind heart, but sadly, it’s not quite enough to make the film worthy of its time investment. At closer to 80 minutes, it might have been a flawed yet mildly satisfying lark. At over 100, however, it’s just too much of an ask. Holmes is growing as a filmmaker and while have a great movie in her soon enough. We’re just not quite there yet.