If you asked me to summarise And While We Were Here briefly, my answer would be inspiring chick-flick. Though using the word inspiring is solely theoretical. In practice And While We Were Here does not deliver as it emerged itself in a cliché we’ve seen time after time.
Set amongst picturesque Italian locales, freelance writer Jane (Kate Bosworth) is searching to complete her first book in the company of husband Leonard (Iddo Goldberg), a touring classical musician. Though their visit to Italy takes a back seat as their relationship is explored. It’s established early that their relationship is lacking fullness from Jane’s perspective as Leonard has contrasting interests and opinions. Jane’s dissatisfaction, highlighted by an unsensual sex scene, tells us all we need to know.
This begins the build-up to Jane’s journey of life’s meaning, attempting to inspire the audience. During a day of sightseeing Jane meets free-spirited Caleb (Jamie Blackley), a younger man whose zest for life puts a spring in Jane’s step. In typical click-flick procedure Jane feels she has met the man of her dreams excited by Caleb’s knowledge of culture and life. Inevitably Caleb causes a three-way tension between himself, Jane and Leonard leading to predicable sentimentality and drama.
Reflecting over And While We Were Here there are criticisms to be made. Firstly Jane’s lust for the younger, exciting Caleb is a worn concept. Does life’s fulfilment always have to result in seeking adventure with strangers? This platitude continued with Jane occasionally listening to her Grandmother’s war experiences where she learnt to make the most of life in dire circumstances. We get it…
It was hard to see what Jane saw in Caleb beyond his rebellious nature. This is not to say Caleb was not portrayed well with Jamie Blackley giving an energetic performance. Despite Caleb’s personality relating to And While We Were Here‘s theme of fulfilling life, I could not to disagree with Leonard reference of Caleb as “that child”. If Caleb seems immature then why should audiences emote towards Jane?
In addition Jane and Leonard’s deteriorating relationship was one-sided. Only Jane’s side is portrayed with Leonard’s reasoning being antagonised rather than explored. His only defense comes in a revealing confrontation near And While We Were Here‘s climax. Whilst we’re supposedly meant to sympathise with Jane’s raw emotions, Leonard did make some convincing arguments which lent sympathy towards him. Rather it’s Jane who comes across as hostile. She conducted herself harshly towards Leonard and her reasoning within their argument did not deliver. Either this was the fault of Bosworth, the script or both. This only adds to my argument of And While We Were Here trying but failing to be inspirational though it was certainly a chick-flick, by no means a positive praise.