Thursday, July 18, 2024

“ALL THAT WE LOVE”

THE STORY – Following the death of her family dog, Emma finds herself at a crossroads where grief and release play together: a midlife awakening is now in full throttle, and those closest to Emma feel the impact, including her best friend Stan and her rambunctious daughter Maggie. To make matters more complicated and ripe for comedic mishaps, Emma’s estranged ex-husband Andy returns to the city from Singapore down on his professional luck and aiming to rekindle things with his lost love.

THE CAST – Margaret Cho, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kenneth Choi, Alice Lee, Atsuko Okatsuka, Missi Pyle & Devon Bostick

THE TEAM – Yen Tan (Director/Writer) & Clay Liford (Writer)

THE RUNNING TIME – 90 Minutes


The reality that all that we love will one day be lost is often difficult to accept. It’s one of life’s cruelties, and another is how little time we get to spend with our pets. One minute, you’re meeting them for the first time, and then in a flash, they’re gone. The bond between a dog and their owner, for example, is undeniably one of the most powerful connections there is. It’s irreplaceable, and when they’re gone, you lose a part of your family. In Yen Tan’s “All That We Love,” we meet the film’s protagonist, Emma (Margaret Cho), just after she loses her dog, Tanner. Many films that include the death of beloved canines, like “Marley & Me” and “Old Yeller,” show the relationship and love between a dog and their human, with the dog’s death as an (often traumatic) endnote. It’s showing the after – how you heal from that loss – which makes “All That We Love” such a warm and heartfelt experience.

The film begins at the moment when Emma says goodbye to Tanner. The camera takes moments to linger on his empty bed; on the food bowl still full of kibble; on the dirty paw marks still on the back door. We sit in the stillness of this loss, with a meditative score and windchimes guiding us along. There are many profound moments of silence in the days that follow Emma as she picks up the broken pieces of her heartache. 

We see her trying to stick to a routine. She goes to work, sees her best friend Stan (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), and visits with her daughter, Maggie (Alice Lee), but now comes home to an empty house. She forgets that Tanner won’t run to her anymore when she shakes his collar. There’s loneliness in loss, and Emma feels this the most when Maggie tells her she’ll be staying in Australia for five months. But, Tanner’s death leads to Emma reconnecting with her ex-husband, Andy (Kenneth Choi), one of the few people who understands this loss. The film is at its strongest when these two sit in sweet moments of reminiscing over their time together with Tanner. However, Emma and Andy seemingly trying to give their relationship another shot doesn’t sit well with the people in Emma’s life, especially Stan, who watched their family implode due to Andy’s alcoholism. Living in the past and struggling to move on is a cycle that Emma is having trouble breaking.

It’s easy to wish that life would go back to the way it used to be. The past is nostalgic and happier, especially after a loss, and Emma dredging it up is a source of coping with a new reality. By focusing on the past and the passing of time, the film turns into so much more than the loss of a dog, but it’s also a film that lives profoundly in the healing of past heartbreak. It’s about a broken family coming back together again, as though it were the beloved pet’s dying wish. Many characters in the film are attempting to start over: Emma after this loss, Andy after his second divorce, and Stan after the loss of his husband, so it’s interesting to explore how each of them goes about this in different ways. 

There is a mundanity to the script that makes this often feel like your typical, charming little indie. The comedy isn’t the strongest half of this dramedy, and the dialogue is quite hit or miss, but it still remains light-hearted. Its focus on the importance of forging deeper connections with those around us, while they’re still here, is poignant to explore and creates a deep, emotional resonance. As the sympathy card that Andy sends to Emma says, “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Its focus on the importance of forging deeper connections with those around us, while they’re still here, is poignant to explore and creates a deep, emotional resonance.

THE BAD - There is a mundanity to the script that makes this often feel like your typical, charming little indie. The comedy isn’t the strongest half of this dramedy, and the dialogue is quite hit or miss.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - None

THE FINAL SCORE - 6/10

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Sara Clements
Sara Clementshttps://nextbestpicture.com
Writes at Exclaim, Daily Dead, Bloody Disgusting, The Mary Sue & Digital Spy. GALECA Member.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Its focus on the importance of forging deeper connections with those around us, while they’re still here, is poignant to explore and creates a deep, emotional resonance.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>There is a mundanity to the script that makes this often feel like your typical, charming little indie. The comedy isn’t the strongest half of this dramedy, and the dialogue is quite hit or miss.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b>None<br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>6/10<br><br>"ALL THAT WE LOVE"