Review: Katie Holmes Directs Her First Feature, ‘All We Had’


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Stefania Owen, left, and Katie Holmes in “All We Had,” a film directed by Ms. Holmes.

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Seacia Pavao/Gravitas Ventures

Homelessness, alcoholism, real estate chicanery, the financial crisis, teenage drug abuse and transgender discrimination: These are some of the themes dutifully trotted out and glossed over in the screen adaptation of Annie Weatherwax’s 2014 novel, “All We Had.” Although sensitively handled in the film, it all adds up to an overload of baggage for a well-meaning but formulaic movie with not enough time to transcend predictable clichés.

Katie Holmes, making her feature directorial debut, stars as Rita, a bedraggled but nonetheless beautiful homeless woman living out of a beat-up car with her 15-year-old daughter, Ruthie (Stefania Owen). The best thing about “All We Had” is Ms. Holmes’s stormy portrayal of a desperate, foolishly trusting woman who rushes from man to man seeking security, only to find herself used and betrayed while her daughter looks on with increasing dismay.

When things don’t work out with one rescuer, Rita and Ruthie flee to another town, and the cycle repeats itself. However disheveled, with dark circles of exhaustion under her eyes, Rita has no problem attracting suitors to whom she gives herself much too readily. She blurs any qualms she may have with copious amounts of alcohol.

Video

Trailer: ‘All We Had’

A preview of the film.


By GRAVITAS VENTURES on Publish Date December 8, 2016.


Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

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The story begins just as Rita is about to hit rock bottom. After her car breaks down in a small town, Rita is forced to take a job as a waitress in the diner whose kindhearted owner, Marty (Richard Kind), pities her and Ruthie, even though they walked out on their check. Marty’s transgender niece, Pam (Eve Lindley), who dreams of finding stardom in New York City, is a waitress at the diner and soon becomes the best friend of Ruthie, who washes dishes.

The soul of the movie is the complicated mother-daughter relationship, which changes as Ruthie, who narrates the story, observes Rita making the same mistakes again and again. A happy ending appears to be in sight, or so Rita fantasizes, with her newest boyfriend, Vic (Mark Consuelos), a slick real estate broker who sells her a house with a subprime loan and no down payment. She naïvely signs the papers without even reading them.

Another potential savior is Lee (Luke Wilson), an earnest small-town dentist, who pops in and out of the movie and begins courting Rita just when Ruthie has lost faith in her mother’s judgment. Lee persuades Rita to join him at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and a brighter future seems possible.

What’s missing is texture and detail in a movie (with a screenplay by Josh Boone and Jill Killington) that crowds too much plot into too little space. It’s easy to see how “All We Had” might have been better if stretched into a multipart television series.

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