Review by Sean Boelman
Katie Holmes’s sophomore feature as a director recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival where it was met with a largely negative reception. And while Alone Together certainly has some elements that don’t work as well as they should, it’s really just a mostly passable and quaint romantic drama.
The movie follows two strangers at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic who accidentally book the same AirBnB. It’s a setup that could have lent itself to either a horror movie or a romance, and even though Holmes went with the latter, it’s almost surprising that no one has tried to make a double-booked AirBnB horror movie (or at least not a mainstream one).
However, after the meet cute occurs, it soon becomes clear that the film is going to drag its feet a bit. It’s a series of interactions over which the characters quickly (or slowly — their perception of time is as skewed as ours was during the height of the pandemic) fall in love. It’s something we have seen dozens of times before.
Holmes obviously has a positive message here about self-care and putting one’s own needs first, but everything about the movie feels so inauthentic that it doesn’t really resonate. Beyond the suspension of disbelief it takes to believe that two New Yorkers would randomly be nice to each other, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to flare up, the love story here just seems unlikely.
The characters also feel extremely shallow. They are written in a way that feels like they were clearly made with the intention of showing human kindness is possible and nothing else. It’s the grumpy guy who has to learn to love and the city girl who has to learn to loosen up tropes, and those are so worn out at this point.
Nevertheless, Holmes and her co-star Jim Sturgess manage to infuse the film with a surprising amount of charm. The chemistry between them is solid and without a doubt the most believable thing about the movie. There are a couple of brief supporting parts from people like Derek Luke, Melissa Leo, and Zosia Mamet, but none are particularly memorable.
For a COVID-19 movie, the film is also surprisingly polished, for better or worse. It doesn’t feel like a DIY project, but that also means that it doesn’t get as much of a pass for some of its imperfections. For example, there are some parts in which the movie feels overly saturated, and that can be frustrating.
Alone Together is mostly just an average romantic drama. It certainly could have done without the COVID-19 element, and it’s a tad on the conceited side, but it’s not the insensitive travesty some would have you believe it is.
Alone Together is now in theaters and hits VOD on July 29.