Tribeca Festival Review – ‘Alone Together’ is an Expected Early Pandemic Romance

Tribeca Festival Review – ‘Alone Together’ is an Expected Early Pandemic Romance
The number of films being made about the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be increasing, and for good reason: what many thought was going to be a two-week break from normalcy has become, two years in, a new reality where some restrictions are still in place in parts of the country, some people continue to wear masks, and certain facets of society have been forever transformed. It may be hard to remember what things were like at the very beginning, but Katie Holmes’ new comedy Alone Together will help audiences recall that almost instantly in its story of two strangers locked down in the same place in March 2020.

Alone Together

Many people fled New York City at the onset of the pandemic, and, in this film, June (Holmes) is one of them. Her exodus is a worsening series of things gone wrong: all the trains upstate are cancelled, her boyfriend (Derek Luke) has decided to stay the city with his family, and when she finally arrives at her Airbnb, there’s another guest, Charlie (Jim Sturgess) there. Since she has nowhere else to go, and no way to get there anyway, she spends the night, and what begins as a standoffish dynamic with Charlie slowly blossoms into a close relationship that should be easily identifiable by anyone who spent time with someone else they didn’t know all that well in quarantine.

The premise of Alone Together is simple enough, and it’s far enough removed from the early phases of the pandemic where people didn’t know much, hand sanitizer was impossible to find, and masks were not yet a thing to not feel like a horror movie that’s just too real. But its setup is also clumsy, beginning with the odd choice to show June waiting at a subway station where train lines travel all the way upstate, a red flag for any New Yorker watching since they definitely do not. Part of the awkwardness that ensues between June and Charlie is because this house in the county has only one bathroom and one bedroom, which feels unlikely given its location and overall size.

Alone Together

But there is still heart to be found, and this film does manage to mimic pandemic times in June’s phone calls to all the restaurants in a book of menus at the house, where she gets voicemail box after voicemail box stating that they are all closed indefinitely.

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They both still have full use of their devices, but the world feels a whole lot smaller when they can’t actually go and spend time in person with those they care about most, like June’s grandfather and Charlie’s mother. Being drawn to each other is almost inevitable, and even if they couldn’t be more different when they first meet, the film’s title gives away that romance is obviously in the cards.

This is not Holmes’ first outing as a director, with one feature film, 2016’s All We Had, in her credits. She also co-wrote a pandemic-set short film, Almost a Year. Her filmmaking touch here is sensitive but not subtle, broadly creating a framework in which these two characters can come to see the value in each other.

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When it’s just the two of them on screen, it’s hard not to be drawn into their world, even if those watching might make radically different choices if the overall situation – and every little moment within it – presented itself. But that’s the appeal and approach of Alone Together, a perfectly decent if unextraordinary film: circumstances shape the decisions we make and how we behave, and the pandemic threw everything into chaos for so many. The fact that this experience, while prickly at first, feels completely calm and delightful shows that a fresh start with someone unexpected may be exactly what was needed for June and what may be needed for others.

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Grade: B

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

Alone Together makes its world premiere in the Spotlight Narrative section at the 2022 Tribeca Festival and will be released theatrically by Vertical Entertainment on Friday, July 29th.

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