"}
Film

While We Were Here

The honeymoon’s over

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Between the architectural pillars of Renaissance Italy and Kate Bosworth, director Kat Coiro hangs a gossamer tale of ruined love and liberation with While We Were Here. An homage to neorealism, the French New Wave and the cinematic power of faces, as well as a lark of sorts for Coiro and Bosworth after their collaboration on Life Happens, this black-and-white, anti-romantic feature might also be seen as a retort to that earlier film.

An antipasto platter of film references, While We Were Here bends the conventions of its various inspirations, which include De Sica, Rossellini, Roman Holiday, and (although the central location is Naples) Godard, because Bosworth so strongly evokes Jean Seberg in Breathless. Bosworth’s Jane—a troublingly thin, visibly depressed American tourist—has arrived in Italy with her husband, Leonard (Iddo Goldberg), a classical viola player in town for concert rehearsals. There are no overt hostilities between the two, but there’s no evident love, either.

Jane is a writer who has long struggled with a project she can’t quite wrap her head around: Through her ever-present headphones, she listens to hours of interviews she conducted with her English grandmother, whose recollections of having lived through two world wars, Jane hopes, will provide the inspiration for a book. As Jane’s grandma, Claire Bloom delivers a vocal performance so deft that her character seems to take palpable form, her words arriving at perfect intervals throughout the film.

The film is initially shot with what seems to be an unnecessarily wide lens, and a jagged palette of shadows and light that are meant to reflect Jane’s psychological conflict. It comes to light that she’s had a miscarriage, an essential part of this portrait that nonetheless feels like a too-easy device. And as American movie women tend to do when visiting Italy, Jane experiences a sensual awakening.

Contrary to expectations, said arousal is provided not by an Italian but by a footloose 19-year-old American, Caleb (Jamie Blackley), who is a bit taken with himself but amuses the 30ish Jane, especially when he tells her viola jokes. The flaw here is that any wife of a professional viola player would have heard them all before.

While Caleb never becomes a figure of crucial significance, he does throw Jane’s marital problems into high relief. Leonard exhibits all the signs of being out of love: He doesn’t really listen, and he responds wearily when Jane attempts conversational intimacy. During sex, when Jane asks him, “Is there anything you want?” he responds, “Just you, Jane.” What Jane herself wants isn’t sex, or even love, but spontaneity, which Caleb provides.

Coiro’s script provides all manner of understated clues as to Jane’s problems and resolutions, while lenser Chamberlain delivers a portrait in light that is not exactly understated—Bosworth blossoms gloriously as Jane finds her erotic footing—but is precise and moving, much like the film itself. While We Were Here does have a hint of Chanel advertising about it, and one sequence of Jane and Caleb romping about the island of Ischia seems almost a parody of love-in-bloom moments, but the emotions feel otherwise genuine.

Ticket Cascadia
More Film...
London Road
A musical murder mystery

The techniques of verbatim theater go back decades, to at least the 1950s, when young German theater troupes would reenact complicated court cases word for word onstage. Even earlier, in the United States, the WPA paid for a form of this performance with its “Living Newspapers,” in…

more »
The Magnificent Seven
Another day, another remake

The big difference between the new version of The Magnificent Seven and the revered 1960 feature is the ethnic background of the main characters. The titular seven in director Antoine Fuqua’s take are a diverse bunch, while the ruthless villain of the piece is no longer a Mexican bandito…

more »
Bridget Jones’s Baby
Renee gets a rebirth

Hapless London-based media type Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) returns to the big screen after a 12-year break to battle unexpected pregnancy, 20-something hipsters and, once more, the perils of live TV in Bridget Jones’s Baby. With our heroine now a successful single producer in her…

more »
Events
Today
A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

The Happy Elf Auditions

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Making Miso

4:00pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Not If But When

6:00pm|Burlington Public Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bingo in Blaine

6:00pm|Blaine Senior Center

Wonton and Char Siu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Roving Cocktail Party

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Beginning Square Dance

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Monastery Talk

7:00pm|Bellingham Shambhala Meditation Center

Eagle Presentation

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Blackfish Prophecy

7:00pm|Village Books

CW BOB 2016 Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Lynden Book Club

12:30pm|Lynden Library

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Fun with Fermentation

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Ukulele for Everyone

4:00pm|Everson Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Bokashi Composting

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Teton Gravity Research's Tight Loose

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Bebel Gilberto

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

CW BOB 2016 Zoots Side Bar
Thursday
Eat Local Month

4:00pm|Bellingham and Whatcom County

A gold medal standard

4:00pm

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Ensembulele

4:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Final After-Hours Market

4:00pm|Depot Market Square

Autumn Soups

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Tame Your Inner Critic

7:00pm|Village Books

Little Women

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Looking for Betty MacDonald

7:30pm|Village Books

The Music Man

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

The Miracle Worker

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Swinomish 2016 Northwood Steak and Crab Mount Baker Theatre Everybody’s Store Bellingham Farmer’s Market Artifacts Wine Bar Village Books Andrew Subin CW BOB 2016 Zoots Side Bar