Sun-streaked and Meditative, And While We Were Here Loses its Spark


And While We Were Here, writer-director Kat Coiro’s sun-dappled, largely handheld meditation on fidelity, sometimes recalls Richard Linklater’s celebrated Before trilogy—specifically its middle entry, Before Sunset, wherein the fact that Ethan Hawke’s Jesse has a wife and kid back home in the States hangs over everything. The married couple that Coiro follows to Italy, Jane and Leonard (Kate Bosworth and Iddo Goldberg), isn’t nearly as chatty as Linklater’s young/youngish/middle-aged lovers, and we infer quickly that the silence between them is a problem. He’s a professional viola player in town for a big concert; she’s a freelance writer working on a book about her grandmother’s experiences in England during the two world wars. (Throughout the film she listens back to her recorded conversations with grandma, which have an uncanny way of commenting upon her present circumstances.) On a solo day trip to the romantic island of Ischia, Jane allows herself to be charmed by a 19-year-old American boy (Jamie Blackley, livelier than anything else in the film) who showers her with the adoration her kind but distant husband has long denied her. Coiro stabs at profundity by making Leonard surprisingly forgiving and Jane surprisingly cruel when at last they argue, but then squanders the insight she’s eked out with an overwrought climax that drives home the impossibility of love by playing Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” on the soundtrack. It’s a bummer that the movie settles for such an oft-mined vein of bummed-outedness—for a few minutes, Coiro really had me going.