Film Review: Katie Holmes Make Directorial Debut In “All We Had”

Synopsis: For fifteen-year-old Ruthie Carmichael (Stefania Owen) and her young mother, Rita (Katie Holmes), life has never been stable. Fleeing Rita’s latest boyfriend, they find themselves living out of their beat-up car, and heading east in search of a better life. When money runs out and their car breaks down, they become stranded in a small town where Rita ultimately lands a steady job waitressing at Tiny’s, a local diner where they begin to develop a family: tender-hearted Marty (Richard Kind), the owner of the diner, and Pam (Eve Lindley), a transgender waitress with big dreams who becomes Ruthie’s closest friend.
Katie Holmes makes her directorial debut in All We Had, and the film shows her layered, bright talent as both an actress and director. All We Had is a tale of woe and resistance for a mother-daughter duo that have coursed through the bad decisions and situations life has offered them. It is a powerful tale on how the bad of life, and even a person, cannot outweigh the good.

Stefania Owen plays Ruthie; a sweet, incredibly smart girl that narrates the film with wise insights on both her childhood with her mother Rita (Katie Holmes) and the emotions that drive human responses. Rita has had a hard life, and Katie Holmes delivers her best, most gut-wrenching performance as a woman that looks and feels torn by life. Holmes wears Rita’s spiritual exhaustion on her skin. Even when she smiles there is a brokenness to her, as if in her eyes carry a dimmed twinkle where the light of her dreams once were. It is always tragic to see and feel the energy of a person that has no hope for themselves. Holmes delivers that heartbreak with a genuineness that makes her performance one to get lost in. By bringing Rita so vividly to life, she elevates the greatness of her fellow actors like, Owen’s Ruthie, Eve Lindley’s charismatic Peter Pam, and Richard Kind as the compassionate Marty. Each character has their own, personal challenge to face that affects the lives of Ruthie and Rita, but never overcasts the fact that these two are a “Thelma & Louise” duo for life.

Mothers and daughters will be particularly attracted to seeing this film as it glorifies the mutual sense of perseverance that can be given from mother to child and vice-versa. Although it is instantly felt that Rita has given up on her happiness, she never loses faith that her child, Ruthie, is destined for a great, joyous life. Such belief in her daughter is what allows audience to understand some of her poor decisions and forgive her rather self-destructive ones, particularly in the form of men. Mark Consuelos as Vic epitomizes the charm of a self-absorbed man. Handsome with a gift for gab, the real-life sweetheart, is practically detestable as his character, whom never considers the heart or finances of Rita throughout their courtship. Such a situation is common in real-life, and the film does well to show that even poor people like, Ruthie and Rita, can get “taken” at their lowest. From the beginning, the film makes audiences aware that Rita and Ruthie have been undeservingly and cruelly degraded by others’ choices. It is not until she sparks friendships with Lindley’s Peter Pam and Kind’s Marty that both Rita and the audience are reminded that the darkness of others can be enlightened by the light of a few, good people, especially ones like Luke Wilson’s Lee. The actor gives his character a kind nobility that makes you cheer for his relationship with Rita; a woman that, for all her wrong choices, is still a good person.

All We Had is based on the book by Anne Weatherwax, to which Holmes assures the film is perfectly shot, edited, and acted to do this exceptional novel justice. Katie Holmes is a director that I would love to see again and again. She not only brought the best of her fellow cast and crew but herself, as well. I cannot reiterate enough that this is a new turn for Katie Holmes as a real, sparkling talent in Hollywood. All We Had Comes Out In Theaters December 9.

RT: 105 Minutes