Who We Are Now
Directed by Matthew Newton
An ex-con fights for custody of her son.
It’s time to stop taking Julianne Nicholson for granted, said David Ehrlich in IndieWire.com. In this “devastatingly authentic” low-budget drama about a middle-aged female ex-con, “America’s most underappreciated screen actress” finally enjoys the kind of role she has long deserved. Given that Nicholson’s Beth is mostly focused on regaining custody of her 10-year-old son after a prison stint for manslaughter, “there are so many places where this film could have felt trite.” But because its best scenes are grounded in such fine-grained naturalism, “it often seems like a movie without precedent.” Emma Roberts co-stars as a young public defender whose professional struggles we initially follow separately, said Devika Girish in VillageVoice.com. The film can feel imbalanced because Beth has more at stake than Roberts’ Jess, but the unusual narrative strategy also generates a series of “wonderfully loose” vignettes. Better yet, “there are no straightforward heroes or villains here,” said Mike D’Angelo in AVClub.com. Even Jess and Beth’s alliance doesn’t lead to clear-cut tragedy or triumph. In Who We Are Now, “it’s more complicated than that.” ■