Tribeca 2018 Review: Untogether Is Good with a Great Jemima Kirke Performance

Author-turned-director Emma Forrest attempts to explore the turbulent nature of relationships with Untogether. Admittedly, the film itself is rather turbulent in terms of how it depicts its thematic material. But it becomes evident that Forrest has a distinctive filmmaking voice. Her attempt to demonstrate the complicated nature of being in love is a solid acting showcase with some well-crafted sequences.

Untogether stars the two Kirke sisters, Jemima and Lola, as two sisters named Andrea and Tara. Andrea is a former heroin addict who is also a writer and hasn’t published another book in a while. She is also having an affair with a doctor named Nick (Jamie Dornan) who wrote a successful memoir. Meanwhile, Tara is a massage therapist who is in a relationship with an older man named Martin (Ben Mendelsohn), a former musician. But Tara finds herself romantically drawn to an aging rabbi (Billy Crystal).

It’s clear with the men that Tara is drawn to that Untogether attempts to explore the politics of age gaps in relationships. However, the only reason it doesn’t work entirely is because of the inclusion of Billy Crystal’s character. Crystal is reliably good but his character wasn’t very necessary to the film’s story. The dynamic between Tara and Martin works entirely fine on its own and the actors do a fine job at portraying that dynamic. After playing a slew of villains or schmucks, Ben Mendelsohn gets to refreshingly play against type as a relaxed musician, adding sly comic relief. Lola Kirke manages to impress as well as the conflicted Tara.

However, as terrific as those two are, Jemima Kirke is easily the film’s MVP. She is quite magnetic as the troubled Andrea. Even if her character tends to make selfish decisions like the other main characters, Jemima still makes her immensely watchable thanks to her sharp wit mixed with subtle emotional depth. She is a commanding presence even in her scenes with Jamie Dornan who can’t quite create any romantic chemistry between them. Despite being given a potentially complex character, Dornan doesn’t do any interesting things with it. Nick is someone who is sympathetic even if he’s simultaneously a bit shady and he isn’t translated well on screen. Then again, their lack of chemistry could also be due to the fact that their relationship is mostly built on physical intimacy.

As for everything else, the cinematography by Autumn Durald has some well-shot moments. Particularly, the scenes between Andrea and Nick after they consummate their feelings. Those scenes are shot with a blue tint to capture the tranquil mood. There is also a scene where both characters do engage in sexual activity with red lighting to capture their fiery passion. Aside from the great cinematography, the mellow musical score by Robin Foster is quite terrific as well.

Even if Untogether doesn’t always come together, it still possesses hints of greatness. It’s a solid directing debut from Emma Forrest and I’m curious to see what potential projects she does going forward.

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Matthew St.Clair

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