AND WHILE WE WERE HERE (2012)
Running Time: 83 mins. Rating: x Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Kat Coiro
Distributor: Well Go USA
Cast: Kate Bosworth, Jamie Blackley, Iddo Goldberg, Claire Bloom
What chance does a guy in his thirties have when his wife meets an attractive kid of nineteen who appears skilled in the art of seduction? Usually there is no contest. If the man is attentive to his wife, provides enough materially for her, and is as mature as she, the marriage is as sturdy as the diamond on her finger. However, writer-director Kat Coiro illustrates in AND WHILE WE WERE HERE a marriage that is flawed, one that finds the husband clueless about his mate’s needs. Never mind that he is a professional London-based viola player who travels to Naples with his wife, who, while he is rehearsing with his orchestra, is sure that his charming wife is busy writing a book on her grandmother’s war experiences. All bets are off despite our seeing a woman whose husband loves her and the sex is OK (don’t forget they’re already in their thirties). What’s missing? According to her, it’s spontaneity, something she finds in the callow youth who picks her up in Naples, follows her around (considered stalking in our parts), and invites himself to join her on a day-trip to the island of Ischia.
The eternal triangle is on display with Kate Bosworth as the 30-ish writer Jane, Iddo Goldberg as her musician husband Leonard, and Jami Blackley as Caleb, the Massachusetts-born nineteen-year-old who certainly does not think like so many other males of his age that a woman in her thirties is old.
I think the husband gets a raw deal, but ethics get shunted aside when a new attraction electrifies Jane, who is seduced by a kid with no visible means of support who is wandering about in Italy, ready to hop off to Romania and Tibet. (Never mind that a trip to Tibet cannot be had for a couple of bucks and that a visa is required, and that’s only if the province happens at the time to be open to Americans.)
From time to time we in the audience are treated to a recording by Jane’s grandmother (narrated with a clear, excited voice by Claire Bloom), a woman who has lived through two world wars and whose memories are of her many boyfriends. A narrative such as this transforms Jane into a person who treats her grandmother as a role model, interpreting her stories to mean that the meaning of life is to enjoy it fully with an array of exciting fellas. No wonder she is dazzled by Caleb’s free spirit, joining him in a simple outdoor restaurant in Ischia, with the added fun of running like rabbits from the waiter when they had no money to pay the check. And jumping from the rocks into the water? There’s something that Jane could not expect from her all-too-proper British mate Leonard.
Considering how bland the marriage seems to be—but functional, in my opinion—a melodramatic note becomes a welcome change as Jane’s voice switches from a rumbling bass to a high piercing shout as she indicts her husband with the charge of not loving her, of not listening to her, and of simply not connecting. Leonard tries to rebut, accusing Jane of wanting to make him someone he is not, and this is true. She is depressed from a miscarriage, based on a pregnancy that hints that theirs was a shotgun marriage, but when she puts herself down by saying that she can never have children, she casts the blame onto him—assuring him without much evidence that he must be deeply disappointed that he will never be a father.
Much of the film is as bland as Jane and Leonard are before the meeting with Caleb. The lensing is in sepia when perhaps bold color punctuating the sights of the touristic island of Ischia might be more alluring. However, director Coiro means us to focus not on Italy as travelogue, but Naples and Ischia are projections of the inner lives of the couple.
At eighty-three minutes, AND WHILE WE WERE HERE does not outlast its welcome. Some in the audience (like me) would condemn Jane for her brash activities. After all, she has no future with Caleb who will soon be traipsing around Europe and China. Some might make comparisons with French New Wave cinema, even with Godard’s BREATHLESS—about a man who has shot a policeman and tries to convince a girl to hide out in Italy with him. AND WHILE WE WERE HERE, however, is far from a classic; just a slice of life about a fading marriage burdened by a proper British husband, a depressed wife, and a rootless, spontaneous child.
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