Review of Katie Holmes’s New Movie Rare Objects It Falls Short
The deficiencies inherent in Rare Objects, the third directorial work of Katie Holmes, may not be readily discernible. The actress, who co-authored and portrayed the lead role in the film, entices the audience with the prospect of the disclosed biographical particulars in the opening sequence. Julia Mayorga’s character, Benita, is depicted as seated in front of a physician (Matthew Lawler) who is attending to her at an unspecified medical facility, where she is preparing to be discharged. The individual narrates a combination of ordinary and troubling pieces of information. Benita, a former student at the City University of New York, underwent an abortion procedure and subsequently sought medical attention at a hospital due to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. The aforementioned annotations do not establish an existence, however, they do pledge a narrative that is significantly more captivating than the one presented in Rare Objects.
The screenplay of Holmes and her co-writer Phaedon A. Papadopoulos was derived from Kathleen Tessaro’s eponymous novel. The novel Tessaro’s Rare Objects is set in Boston during the Great Depression. The protagonist, Maeve, is a first-generation Irish immigrant who has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital in New York. She secures a position at an antique store. Maeve’s employment at the store provides her with exposure to a social circle comprised of the most affluent individuals and families in the city. Additionally, it facilitates a reunion with a female acquaintance whom she had previously met at the hospital.
The book and the film exhibit overarching thematic similarities, including the exploration of class, trauma, and the revival of a friendship that was forged under challenging circumstances. However, they diverge in their specificities. Holmes and Papadopoulos enthusiastically relocate the narrative from its original Depression-era setting to a modern-day context. Maeve undergoes a transformation and adopts the persona of Benita, a female individual of Latin American descent and a second-generation immigrant whose life is constrained by the geographical boundaries of her locality situated in Queens. Enrolling in a college situated in Manhattan enables her to transcend her place of origin and significantly alters her outlook on attainable opportunities. The enthusiastic demeanor of Benita is evocative of past experiences.
The expansion of Benita’s horizons is accompanied by novel perils. These fleeting excursions into the recent past provide us with insights into her distressing experiences during her college years. The occurrence of a previously enchanting rendezvous abruptly transforming into a violent episode has resulted in physical harm and apprehension for a youthful individual residing in Queens. The temporal framework of Rare Objects remains unspecified; however, it is evident that the narrative centers around the process of reconstructing a life in the aftermath of a recent traumatic event.
The character’s discharge from the hospital marks a sudden resumption of her daily activities, which poses a challenge to her initial adjustment. Benita is seated amidst a group of commuters on the 7 train, a transportation route connecting Manhattan and Queens. The individuals surrounding her are observed to be wearing surgical masks and KN95s, causing her to experience discomfort. The remarks and inquiries made by Saundra Santiago, who is unaware of the incident or the medical facility, cause discomfort for Benita. The endeavor to inquire about the well-being of a former romantic partner exposes the fact that her acquaintances have progressed in their personal journeys.
In her inaugural performance on the big screen, Mayorga aptly portrays the character of Benita as a depiction of vulnerability and unease in the initial stages. The youthful female traverses the thoroughfares of New York City with an agitated apprehension. The protagonist’s later development of self-assurance is attributed to her engagement in affectionate dialogues and acquisition of a new occupation at the antique store. The establishment, managed by Ben Winshaw, a reticent voyager, and his refined business associate, Peter Kessler, serves as a protective environment in which the susceptible Benita undergoes a process of emotional recovery. Alan Cumming delivers a captivating performance in his role as Kessler.
The film Rare Objects exhibits a significant amount of emotional depth as it endeavors to portray the fragmented aftermath of trauma with empathy. The aforementioned work bears resemblance to Ally Pankiw’s literary piece titled “I Used to Be Funny”, which documents the endeavors of a female protagonist in re-establishing her sense of self amidst the challenges of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following an assault. In contrast to Pankiw’s initial work, the novel Rare Objects appears to struggle with effectively managing the necessary tonal variations demanded by its subject matter. The unconventional tempo of the movie poses a difficulty in comprehending Benita’s character development, and the inclusion of Diana Van der Laar (Holmes) exacerbates this issue.
Upon Diana’s entrance into the shop, Benita promptly identifies her acquaintance from the medical facility. The actual circumstances surrounding their first encounter remain undisclosed, as they resort to fabricating a pretext of attending a charitable event to prevent potential observers, namely the proprietor and James, portrayed by David Alexander Flinn, from probing further. The two female individuals fortuitously develop a bond through a series of chance encounters. The authenticity of their mutual fondness is undeniable, however, the socioeconomic disparities between them pose a significant source of distress. Diana’s financial stability, attributed to her family’s wealth, aids her in her efforts to regain stability. In contrast, Benita is concerned with the repayment of her student loans and the facilitation of her mother’s navigation through the intricate U.S. immigration process.
Rare Objects exhibits potential for a captivating narrative that explores the intersection of socioeconomic disparities and the process of healing from trauma. However, the text struggles to effectively manage its various intriguing plotlines. The film rapidly alternates between the perspectives of Diana and Benita, thereby accentuating the contrast in the potency of their respective narratives.
The fragmented nature of Benita’s narrative becomes apparent when juxtaposed with the comprehensible depiction of the heiress’ misfortunes. One may begin to contemplate the unexplored threads pertaining to the subject’s interests, collegiate experiences, and previous romantic relationships that were left unresolved. The user raises concerns regarding a perceived detachment in the author’s storytelling. The absence of these small but significant details renders the portrayal of the friendship between Diana and Benita, which forms the core of the narrative, unsatisfactory.
The aforementioned inquiries become even more persistent when supporting personas, such as Kessler portrayed by Cummings, are depicted with greater depth and complexity. As Diana’s mental well-being becomes more precarious, her narrative gains greater significance while Benita recedes into the periphery. The organic changes in their interpersonal dynamic have become increasingly implausible to accept and emotionally challenging to experience. Although Rare Objects had good intentions, the insufficient presence of Benita, who was the impetus for the journey, fails to sustain our engagement.
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