‘Alone Together’: As COVID-19 starts a pandemic, Katie Holmes starts a sweet relationship

Actor also writes and directs lovely romantic drama.

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New friends Charlie (Jim Sturgess) and June (Katie Holmes) ride out the pandemic on bikes in “Alone Together.”

Vertical Entertainment

Two years and four months ago.

That’s when most Americans began to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In those early days, we learned about the proper way to wear a mask (does it go over the nose?) and we loaded up on hand sanitizer if we could find it, and we started working from home, and every night for a while in the cities, residents would stand at their windows and bang pots and pans to show support for essential workers.

And then came the moments of heartbreak. A loved one would die, and you wouldn’t even be able to hold an in-person memorial service. You couldn’t see your mother in person — or if you did, it was a wave from the car while she stood in the picture window of the house where you grew up. Hugs were out.

‘Alone Together’


Vertical Entertainment presents a film written and directed by Katie Holmes. Rated R (for language). Running time: 98 minutes. Available Friday on demand.

Writer-director-star Katie Holmes perfectly captures those early pandemic days in the occasionally heartbreaking and mostly sweet and lovely romantic drama “Alone Together.” Even though the story is set against the backdrop of the pandemic and death touches the main characters, this is also a kind of comfort-viewing experience, with authentic performances from the likable leads and a predictable but satisfying story arc.

It’s March of 2020. Holmes’ June, a New York food critic who is becoming a vegetarian (this could be problematic for the job), has been in a relationship with the steady if somewhat self-centered John (Derek Luke) for about a year. When the pandemic hits and the city begins to shut down, John books an Airbnb in upstate Hudson, but decides at the last minute to stay behind and look after his parents.

When June arrives at the idyllic chateau, she finds it’s been double-booked (same premise as the recent “Gone in the Night,” but with a very different tone). The house is already occupied by Charlie (Jim Sturgess), a handsome, scruffy and affable sort who informs June he “restores things” for a living. How convenient! She’s got a handy fix-it guy who stepped out of a hipster-fashion online catalog as a platonic roomie.

Even though the house looks big enough on the outside to handle a dozen guests, there’s only one bathroom and one bedroom. Even though June thought she was going up there for the weekend, she has a magic, “Gilligan’s Island” bag that apparently holds a dozen wardrobe changes. Even though we regularly hear the voice of then-Gov. Cuomo on the news, pleading for help and stating how bad things are getting, and even though June gets some terrible news about a loved one, June and Charlie settle into a 2000s rom-com lifestyle, complete with many glasses of wine and home karaoke performances and making S’mores and bike rides in the park and trips to one area McDonald’s that has remained open. Charlie, Mr. Fix-It, even sews them a couple of homemade masks. What a catch!

Of course, we’re occasionally reminded that June still has a boyfriend back in the city, and when John re-enters the picture, well, it’s complicated. But only in a movie-complicated kind of way.

This is Holmes’ second directorial effort (after the single mother/teenage daughter drama “All We Had” in 2016) , and she has a confident, straightforward style that suits the material she’s written. Onscreen, she remains as charming and endearing as ever, and Jim Sturgess makes for a fine match. June and Charlie might end up alone, or they might wind up together, but either way they’ll be all right, even though they are only beginning to grasp what’s in store for the world in the next two years.

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