A homage to the great Italian black and white films, tweaked for the 21st century, writer-director Kat Coiro’s While We Were Here is a beautiful story about life, love, and following your own heart’s true calling.
In her best performance to date, Kate Bosworth plays Jane, the wife of a stoic and preoccupied viola player, Leonard (Iddo Goldberg). They travel to Naples, Italy, in an attempt to rekindle their struggling marriage, weighed down even more by a recent loss in their family.
As a freelance magazine writer, Jane is working on a book to memorialize her grandmother. She spends much of her days in Naples listening to interviews she recorded with her grandmother before she passed. Being the last that remains in her family’s bloodline and inspired by her grandmother’s reflections on her own life, Jane realizes she’s trapped in her life.
Jane’s pain, frustration, and boredom are palpable, and her vacuous relationship with her husband is at times almost unbearable to watch. The two are almost robotic in their interactions and conversations with one another—saying what husbands and wives are supposed to say to one another, reacting to one another like a husband and wife should, and so on. The state of their relationship becomes even more crystallized when Jane befriends Caleb, a young American living on Ischia.
Caleb is everything Leonard is not, and he showers Jane with adoration, affection, and attention. More importantly, she’s smitten by his youth, optimism, and unadulterated zest for life.
Without giving away what she ultimately decides to do, “While We Were Here” is a smartly written, beautiful film with a deceptively simple story that has far deeper, richer implications. While it will certainly strike a deeper chord with those going through their own quarter-to-third-life crises, the themes of following your heart and living the life you want to live are universal.
While We Were Here is currently screening at the Tribeca Film Festival, with remaining screenings this Friday (April 27).