The much-anticipated Katie Holmes directorial debut, All We Had, is finally hitting theaters, and the film, based on an emotional roller coaster of a drama from author Annie Weatherwax, opens in a social climate ripe to make this the sleeper blockbuster of the year. As people everywhere, from singles to every manner of family, struggle to make their way in an evolving world, some of the less fortunate fall through the cracks. Just as Katie Holmes, who stars in All We Had as Rita Carmichael, sets out to prove, anything can be accomplished with raw determination and maximum effort.
All We Had Puts A Face To An All Too Familiar Struggle
Essentially, the Katie Holmes-directed All We Had is the story of a mother-daughter relationship, but, set against the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, the drama puts a new, yet familiar, spin on the bonds of family. Vulture points out that Holmes, seen at her worst as Rita Carmichael, an alcoholic and cynical mother, is placed at a juxtaposition against Stefania LaVie Owen’s more hopeful and less jaded Ruthie Carmichael, establishing a dynamic in which the child ends up looking after the adult.
After establishing this relationship, All We Had launches its story with the Carmichael women packing up what little they can carry and ditching Rita’s man of the moment at Ruthie’s behest, hoping to find the possibility for a better life elsewhere. The ensuing road trip gives Rita and Ruthie the opportunity to grow closer, as such close quarters often do, and Rita spins fantasies of the promising futures that lay out ahead of Ruthie. She might be a doctor, a lawyer, a politician. The opportunities are limitless.
Fate intervenes when the characters played by Holmes and Owen try to skip out on a check at a small town diner. The owner, played by Richard Kind, shows sympathy, offering Rita a job waitressing alongside his transgender niece (Eve Lindley). Rita recognizes an opportunity here to launch a new life and to give Ruthie some stability and decides to stick it out in this new community.
From there, All We Had attempts to prove that life will always have its ups and downs. Through Katie Holmes’ unique eye for detail, All We Had shows Holmes’ character finding greater opportunities through financial solvency, but it isn’t long before a fragile economy threatens everything she and Owen’s Ruthie have built up.
Katie Holmes Makes All We Had About People, Not About Characters
Entertainment Weekly spoke to Katie Holmes about her unique directing style for All We Had, noting that Holmes gave the story a realistic quality by dealing with each character as a real person, focusing on who they are instead of on what their personalities bring to the story. Whether she’s filming transgender waitress Peter Pam or herself as Rita Carmichael, Katie emphasizes a personal touch. Katie says she tried to avoid building on cliches and instead tried to create authenticity with each All We Had character.
At the heart of All We Had are Rita and Ruthie, and Ms. Holmes says it was their dynamic that drives the story, so it was important to give their development greater emphasis.
“What’s different about these two is their relationship is unconventional; they’re each the only person the other has,” Holmes says. “They’re survivors, they’re sisters sometimes; Ruthie is the mom and Rita’s the girl, and vice versa.”
In creating Eve Lindley’s Peter Pam for All We Had, Holmes felt it was important to focus on the character and not on her status as a transgender person, pointing out that her gender orientation is just one part of the whole person. Katie felt it was much more important to show Pam as a charismatic and warm person, someone who brightens up the diner simply by being herself. Holmes adds that she was pleased to have Eve in that All We Had role, because she shares so many of those traits with the character.
All We Had was Holmes’ first experience as a director, but it certainly won’t be her last. Katie says she has the bug now and she’s looking forward to getting behind the camera on more projects.
“I love directing, and I want to do more of it. … What I enjoy about it aside from the creative empowerment is I like having a set run a certain way; I like being in charge of that,” says Katie Holmes. “I like directing actors.”
All We Had is currently showing in theaters.
[Featured Image by Straight Shot Films/Gravitas Ventures]