Hogg’s debut feature is an enriching experience, almost Rohmer-esque in its focus on the bourgeois and their conversations as a middle-aged British woman in an unhappy marriage joins a friend’s family for a vacation in Tuscany.
Cast: Kathryn Worth, Tom Hiddleston, Mary Roscoe
Plot: Discontented, 40-something Anna decides to spend her summer holiday apart from her husband, in Tuscany with friends. As the days go by, she finds herself more attuned to their teenage children, gravitating towards Oakley.
International Sales: Raw Siena
Subject Matter: Moderate – Interpersonal Relationships; Family & Friends
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Judging from her debut feature, one would have believed at the time that Joanna Hogg could have been the heir apparent to Eric Rohmer. Conversations both calming and angsty adorn Unrelated as Anna, a middle-aged British woman, joins a friend’s extended family for a vacation in Italy.
Suffering from an unhappy marriage and in need of some time away to recharge, Anna finds joy in the company of several young adults, who are the kids of her friends.
Despite the generation gap, Anna finds her hip-and-cool and somewhat rebellious new acquaintances a breath of fresh air, even developing an infatuation with one of them, Oakley, played by a young and dashing Tom Hiddleston.
“I will just be forever, now, on the periphery of things.”
As the summer heat sizzles in Tuscany, sexual tension simmers between Anna and Oakley as they play absurd games, sightsee and skinny dip with the rest. Adulting, however, catches up with Anna, and this is where Hogg shows her gift for conversational dialogue as she, like Rohmer, focuses on the first-world problems of the bourgeois.
Unrelated is about a woman trying to locate her inner bearings before she can find the impetus to continue being a good wife to her husband. Hogg’s naturalistic direction and visual style might feel nondescript but it is perfect for a film like this where the ebb and flow of existence and empathy take precedence.
Backed by an excellent performance from Kathryn Worth as Anna, Unrelated may not have enjoyed the reputation of Hogg’s later, more high-profile films such as The Souvenir (2019), but this is such an enriching experience.