Sunday, April 29, 2018

Talking Tribeca: Untogether

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 18th-29th.

Directed by Emma Forrest
Spotlight Narrative

Regardless of what labels society wants to put on a relationship, some people don’t want to have the way they interact with another person defined by those who don’t understand their connection. It is possible that both parties have the same idea of what they want, but a change or realization from one of them that it isn’t enough and they need to have some formal bond can start to chip away at something that worked previously. Some terms, like “untogether,” can have a double meaning: referring to a less-than-official relationship but also to an individual.

Andrea (Jemima Kirke) scored early success as a novelist at a young age, but since then, and since getting clean, she hasn’t been able to doing any real writing. Her newfound affair with Nick (Jamie Dornan), a doctor made famous as a writer for his memoir about a lost love in Gaza, often frustrates her more than it satisfies her. Her sister Tara (Lola Kirke) is a massage therapist dating a much older musician turned painter, Martin (Ben Mendelsohn), and she finds herself distracted when a rabbi (Billy Crystal) invites her to come to his congregation, sending her on an unexpected journey of self-discovery about what she actually wants from life.

This is a movie with two concurrent sets of protagonists whose lives intersect only occasionally. There are moments in which Andrea and Martin seem much better suited for each other, though both sisters start to look introspectively without letting their significant others in on their pursuits. Tara’s exploration of Judaism is a solitary trajectory, one that Andrea rejects outright and that Martin can’t be really bothered to understand. Nick has his own issues to sort out, and he allows Andrea to share with him much more than he opens up to her.

The assortment of plotlines and troubled relationships include plenty of intrigue but not much connected logic, with each seeming like its own story and hardly relevant to anything else in the film. Casting sisters in these roles is a successful gambit, with both Jemima, of “Girls,” and Lola, of “Mozart in the Jungle,” offering valid interpretations of these young women. Crystal doesn’t seem to fit into the world of this movie, one that seems worth watching while it builds its story and then eventually reveals itself to not be grounded or headed towards something. Its title unfortunately serves as an effective descriptor of its content.


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