And While We Were Here


Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

And While We Were Here
"Even a flawed film can sometimes produce that extra lightness in one's step."

Here's to the beautiful ladies...

Visual pleasure can be found in abundance in Kat Coiro's chic While We Were Here, filmed in black and white on location in Naples and on the island of Ischia, which had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this week.

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The opening number of Ziegfeld Follies (1945) has Fred Astaire sing about what makes it worthwhile to go to the theatre: "Here's to the beautiful ladies, here's to those wonderful girls…" I found myself humming that tune after the press screening which made me think about why even a flawed film can sometimes produce that extra lightness in one's step and a smile turned inwards.

Jane (Kate Bosworth) and Leonard (Iddo Goldberg), a married couple with a problematic past, have come to Naples to work. He is a musician in rehearsals for a concert, she is in the process of writing a book about her grandmother's WWII experiences in rural England.

Their voyage to Italy, (yes, Roberto Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders do loom large) puts the relationship under the microscope and when Jane meets Caleb (Jamie Blackley), a 19 year-old American tourist/drifter/stalker, dynamics are starting to shift.

The marriage has become trivial, their conversations vapid, more effort and care is put into his ties and her smooth silk shirts and shorts than into connecting with each other. Caleb, who has his own sleeping face tattooed on his chest, makes menacing jokes about viola players. "You make me feel nervous," he says to the married woman he is following. "You make me feel calm," she counters. They don't look it: he never looks nervous, she never seems calm.

In a scene by the quay you can see that Blackley must have had tap dancing lessons, and Bosworth didn't. At a poignant moment, Jane asks her husband, who waited up for her all night, if he can be late for work. He plays the viola in an orchestra, and it doesn't seem to cross her mind, that other people might be inconvenienced by her sudden urge to have a conversation.

The landscape is breathtaking, every shot looks stunning. Still, the deepest question I asked myself while watching, was wether the lovely hole knit sweater Kate Bosworth is wearing was by Isabel Marant or Alexander Wang. There is little substance the blithe spirits of the glorious past of Italian cinema can attach themselves to. Like ships passing in the night, people are drifting apart. Grandmother's recollections that we hear as voiceover on tape are as banal as the trio's conversations. Even Claire Bloom's expressive tone can't help that. But maybe it is exactly this banality that makes the life of these characters ring true, or as Rilke concludes so perfectly in his Archaic Torso of Apollo: You have to change your life.

Reviewed on: 25 Apr 2012
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And While We Were Here packshot
A couple head to Naples to try to revive their marriage.
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Director: Kat Coiro

Writer: Kat Coiro

Starring: Kate Bosworth, Claire Bloom, Jamie Blackley, Iddo Goldberg

Year: 2012

Runtime: 83 minutes

Country: US


Tribeca 2012

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