Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Now on Netflix: All We Had (2016)

All We Had (2016) - Directed by Katie Holmes; Written by Josh Boone, Jill Killington; Starring Katie Holmes, Stefania Owen, Luke Wilson, Judy Greer, Mark Consuelos, Richard Kind.

By Kenny Howell

Katie Holmes' directorial debut has just about every indie movie trope crammed into it.

We have poverty, a kid who is poor but really smart, alcoholism, people hitting rock bottom, an oppressed person in a small town, crappy men, characters using getting rained on as a form of cleansing (though no one jumps into a pool throughout the film), trying to sell your dignity to get out of rut, lead characters with heavy eye makeup and frizzy hair. I am sure I am leaving something out.

It makes it all the more surprising that despite all of that, on some level, there are parts of All We Had that work. Most of that has to do with the performances, which do veer into over the top territory on occasion, but nearly everyone seems to have a good connection with each other, especially the mother and daughter at the center of our story played by Holmes and Stefania Owen.

They are Rita and Ruthie. Rita is a bit of a screwup, partially because of her alcoholism, but also because a series of bad life choices have snowballed into an avalanche. She is constantly running away with her 15-year-old daughter Ruthie, trying to leave the past mistakes behind, destined to makes some new ones, but that comes to an end when a dine and ditch attempt fails because their car breaks down in the parking lot. They go in to beg for forgiveness, and the diner owner, played by Richard Kind (Inside Out), feels bad for them and offers both a job to pay him back and help them get back on their feet.

From there, Rita and Ruthie meet several people in the town, some good for them, some bad, but their relationship stays central to everything, the way it has always been. That relationship is the key to the story, and it keeps it going when it can get a bit heavy-handed.

All We Had is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

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