Katie Holmes’ new movie is her directorial debut, and as such, critics say she has some learning to do. All We Had is based on the Annie Weatherwax novel from 2014, following the life of a single mom and her daughter during the 2007 economic crisis.
The film also mirrors Katie’s own life in a way, as the mother (Rita Carmichael) finds herself having to trust different men over and over for financial security. It may have been part of the reason she’d stayed married to Tom Cruise despite his allegedly horrible behavior, the other part being their daughter Suri.
Having moved on with acclaimed actor and musician Jamie Foxx, Katie Holmes has stated that life is better for her and Suri. She isn’t in a hurry to get married again, though. This is probably a good sign that she learned not to rush into things too trustingly like her character does repeatedly in All We Had.
According to the Portland Press-Herald, Katie admits she decided to make the film because she found it so relatable. She also stated that the bond between a mother and a daughter through any financial situation is a powerful thing.
Unfortunately, critics across the board are calling the film formulaic and predictable. If you haven’t read the novel, it’s not clear if the fault lies in the screenplay, the director, or the source material.
New York Times says Katie Holmes’ new movie is guilty of introducing social issues of the day without tackling them, as it repeats the same story over and over. The character’s daughter Ruthie, played by Stefania Owen, begins the film with a voice-over narrative explaining that they did what they always had, taking what they could, and running. The two are about to hit rock bottom when a kindly restaurant owner, Marty (Richard Kind), takes Rita and Ruthie on as a waitress and a dishwasher, respectively.
Ruthie becomes best friends with Marty’s transgender niece Pam (Eve Lindley), who dreams of one day becoming a star in New York City. She watches as her mother makes the same mistakes repeatedly, trusting new men too quickly and then leaving them when things go bad, and always ending up living in the car.
The Los Angeles Times says that All We Had does nothing new to make itself known in a subgenre already full of films like Tumbleweeds and Anywhere But Here.
Rita deals with her mounting problems the way most people do, drinking to numb the pain, but it turns out to be part of the problem. A struggling alcoholic, she is constantly making horrible decisions, even signing a deal without reading it to live in a house her latest boyfriend is almost giving her. It turns out she should have read the agreement more closely, for reasons which would be spoilers.
The film offers a possible happy ending when Rita meets a recovering alcoholic who tries to help her steer her life on a better course. By then, moviegoers can almost predict what will happen.
Entertainment Weekly says the one thing the movie does which others don’t is portray an optimistic single mother and her smart teenage daughter gleefully shopping at Walmart with the hope that their card won’t be declined when they bring a big-screen TV to the register. Otherwise, the film doesn’t really warrant a second viewing due to a story you have likely seen before.
While All We Had isn’t a bad movie, it won’t stand out for audiences, according to critics. Katie Holmes may need a little more practice in the director’s chair before she becomes a go-to name in Hollywood.
[Featured Image by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for IFP]