Anna (Kathryn Worth) arrives in Italy. The plan was that she and her husband Alex would spend a nice holiday with her oldest friend Verena (Mary Roscoe) and her family – husband Charles (Michael Hadley) and three children, Archie (Harry Kershaw), Badge (Emma Hiddleston) and Jack (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), as well as Mary’s friend George (David Rintoul) and his son Oakley (Tom Hiddleston). But after a fight with Alex, Anna decided to travel on her own, to take a break. Much to Verena’s consternation, Anna doesn’t share what’s going on and doesn’t even spend a lot of time with her. Instead she rather hangs out with the kids, especially Oakley.
Unrelated feels almost like a documentary in its approach to its story, and this sense of detachment coupled with Worth’s personal performance allows it to both empathize with Anna while casting a critical glance at her environment, and also at Anna herself. I really enoyed it.
Unrelated was shot in order and a lot of it seems semi-improvised. The camera is often at a distance from the characters and quite static. All this contributes to the feeling that we aren’t watching a fictional story but rather that Hogg just happened to be there when things unfolded just like that (including one blunder where Anna calls Oakley “Tom” – Hiddleston’s real name).
And yet, Worth’s performance invites us deep into Anna’s emotional world. Her sense of loss, of not-belonging, her excitement at the flirtation with Oakley, the way his casual cruelty cuts her to the bone – if you’ve ever spend time in a group where you felt like an outsider or where you thought you had a connection that just wasn’t there, the film and Anna’s position will feel hauntingly familiar. It’s not particularly comfortable.
At the same time, the film allows itself to wonder at these rich British people in Italy. They lounge in a villa they rented, staff included. They run through the city with no concern and little interest. They visit another family of British ex-pats who live in a castle and like to show off Mussolini’s couch they own. It’s all very posh and very empty.
In the end, we get one scene of a true connection where Anna finally breaks down and tells Verena what is happening. Immediately after, Anna puts herself together again, returns to the group and then home, as if nothing ever happened. Is she any happier, though? Who knows.
Summarizing: really good.