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(The 2024 Tribeca Film Festival runs June 5-16, and as always, we have many boots on the ground. Check out Chris Reed’s All That We Love movie review. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

Loving animals inevitably leads to heartbreak; there’s no way around their shorter lifespans (tortoises, elephants, and parrots notwithstanding). As my own aging beagle shows increasing signs of physical and mental decline, I dread what’s coming. In All That We Love, the latest from director Yen Tan (1985), we begin with just such a death. The grief that this loss engenders in protagonist Emma (Margaret Cho, Faith Ba$ed) is profound, leading her to a series of misadventures that eventually put her on the path to recovery. We tag along, equally moved.

Adding to Emma’s woes is the fact that her daughter, Maggie (Alice Lee, Come Find Me), is planning to move to Melbourne with her Australian boyfriend. After Maggie’s alcoholic father abandoned the family for an acting career in Singapore, Emma raised Maggie on her own, with major assistance from best friend Stan (Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of Modern Family fame). The thought of her only child now decamping Down Under heightens Emma’s already large store of grief.

She has other problems, too, including some tired ideas she keeps recycling at her once-innovative home-goods design firm and a prized employee there who wants to leave so she can better commune with the Lord. Still, at least that departing colleague, Kayla (Missi Pyle, Unseen), also fosters dogs, and may, if Emma is open to it, have a new furry companion to ease the pain. Perhaps. It’s not easy moving on.

Into this mix of confusion and heartache comes yet one more complication: the return of ex-husband Andy (Kenneth Choi, Hotel Artemis). Sober now, he is back in town for work, having run out of options abroad. As Emma renews contact with him—he also knew the dearly beloved pooch—she risks alienating the people who depend on her and on whom she depends. It’s a dilemma that forms the spine of the narrative. But don’t worry, there’s also some occasional comedy, too.

And we are deeply engrossed all the way. Tan, working from a script he co-wrote with Clay Liford (Slash), gives all characters enough dimension to help us care for their respective outcomes. Stan is more than a gay bestie, with needs and ideas of his own; Maggie has wells of sorrow below her impatience with mom; Kayla is touchingly thoughtful and, as a result, a great aid to Emma; and finally, Andy is a wounded soul who knows he has done harm but is unsure how to now do better. They make an engaging ensemble, with all the actors imbuing them with sincere feeling.

It’s especially gratifying because some of the opening feels a little rocky, in terms of dialogue and mise-en-scène. But perhaps that’s by design. The world is a suddenly dire place after a fur baby leaves us, and here, even though the humans are front and center, that underlying truth is always present. They are all that we love, and so much more.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

All That we Love movie; Yen Tan; 2024 Tribeca Film Festival

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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