Written and directed by Katie Boland, We’re All in This Together tells the story of Finn Parker (Katie Poland), a young woman struggling with addiction who left home over ten years ago to begin a new life. When she receives a call from home, Finn learns that her mother Kate (Martha Burns) has thrown herself over a waterfall and she is forced to return to the town that she grew up in. Even so, her homecoming is far from welcome. As she faces her estranged sisters, a nephew she barely knows and the painful memories of her ex-boyfriend, Finn begins to remember why she left home in the first place and wishes she was anywhere but there.
With heart and humour, there’s a lot to like about Together. Well-written and executed, Together feels like a very personal project for Boland. Dedicating the project to her mother and grandmother, she carries the film with her energy and a remarkable amount of focus. Already the film’s writer and director, Boland throws herself into dual roles in front of the camera as well. While playing twins is hardly a new cinematic trope, Boland immerses herself in the roles and manages to create two entirely distinctive personalities. This sort of performance requires an amazing amount of focus but Boland’s incredible enthusiasm keeps the film alive.
One of the best aspects of Together is the way that it highlights the challenges faced by families afflicted by mental health issues. In some ways, Kate’s dalliance with the waterfall becomes a metaphor for the fragility of her mind. As she threatens to throw herself over the edge (again), the viewer understands that her sanity is teetering on the brink as well.
However, although Kate remains the story’s catalyst, she is not its focus. Instead, while Kate struggles to hold things together in hospital, the film emphasizes the stories of those who remain on the home front. For example, despite the fact that she has stayed home to care for her ailing parent, Nicki still struggles with tremendous feelings of inadequacy. Unable to “save” her mother from her destabilizing health, she feels incredible guilt and struggles to keep her own life together.
At the same time, Finn bears the weight of shame and guilt as the daughter who separated herself from the family drama. Having left the family for unknown reasons, Finn has fought to start a new life yet she carries her the baggage of her hurt along with her. Nevertheless, even though her attempt to separate yourself was a decision that was made for he sake of her own safety and mental health, she is deemed a quitter by those within her family. To them, she is viewed as a coward who ran away.
To her, the decision to leave was born out of necessity.
For both Nicki and Finn, the challenges of living at home have stagnated their lives and splintered their relationships with one another. Even though they’re struggling together, they feel as though they struggling alone.
Nonetheless, this is very much a film that highlights the power of being together, especially during times of crisis. (I mean, it’s even in the title.) While each individual’s story matters here, there remains a bond between them that’s inescapable. As such, they must rely upon each other when things matter most. When they come do, they allow themselves space to heal together, and potentially help keep each other from going over the edge.
We’re All in This Together is available in theatres on Friday, October 14th, 2022, including some pre-screenings on Thursday, October 13th, 2022.