As Karen (Karie Gonia) and Will (Ernie Joseph) realize, the people we are today are often not the people we’ll be tomorrow, and plans don’t always work out as hoped. As the film opens, the couple are on the deck of their vacation home, ever in love with each other and basking in the glow of a potentially gorgeous future. Cut to years later, and the couple are returning to the vacation home as two very different people, for very different reasons. Karen is despondent and clinging to the memories of happier days, and Will is angry at where he is in life, and all the decisions he made that got them there. Simply, they are not in a good place.
The two soon cross paths, in their own ways, with a younger married couple who have been traveling the country and living in their motor home. Eric (Mark Carr) and Sandy (Wonder Russell) are free spirits, with liberated views on everything from sex to occupation to married life, and their presence reminds Karen and Will of the people they were early on in their lives while at the same time sharply contrasting the people they are today. Both couples will impact the other, though as the grass seemingly grows ever greener on the other side, the ugly truth will ultimately always crop up.
Kris and Lindy Boustedt’s This Is Ours deals with the complexity of married life and, among other things, what happens when everything you did to live the life you wanted winds up disappointing you. It’s a film full of uncomfortable truths and questions of the soul, and it looks really good.
Seriously, if you take nothing away from the film’s narrative, you cannot deny that the film has a little something extra in the visual department. Landscape shots have an almost epic feel, and yet personal moments maintain their intimacy. The baseline bar has been rising in recent years regarding what an independent film looks like, so there’s a higher level of visual quality that has become common, and this overachieves.
Likewise, the acting is solid. While both couples could easily fall into generic stereotypes (oh, look, the uptight, sad couple is hanging with the happy, free spirit couple), the performances allow for a bit more subtlety and substance. The superficial is predominantly transcended, and the audience is able to catch glimpses at what is really at the core of everyone’s bluster, sadness or anger: fear.
If there was one aspect of the film that I didn’t entirely appreciate, however, it was the score. Particularly in the beginning, the score was reminiscent of something I’d hear backing up a commercial about a new anti-depressant; I kept waiting for that ever-familiar “side effects may include…” voiceover to interrupt. Which, when you’re trying to settle into a film like this, can be a distracting thought to have.
Qualms with the music choices aside, though, I mostly enjoyed This Is Ours. As a married man, I probably watched the film with a bit more “please don’t ever let this happen to me” dread than those without that touchstone, but you don’t need that experience to relate to what’s going on. Questions, fears and complications regarding expectations and potential universally abound, and the film will ring true somewhere.
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