Emma Forrest has been a writer all of her life. Now, she’s a director too. The British-American journalist, novelist and screenwriter, debuted her first feature film Untogether at Tribeca Film Festival 2018. The film stars real-life siblings Lola and Jemima Kirke, as well as Jamie Dornan, Billy Crystal and Ben Mendelsohn (the director’s ex-husband). This dreamy relationship drama was one of our festival favorites.
Told with graphic sensitivity, framed by elliptical editing, Forrest’s story feels deliberately realized. Regardless of whatever first-feature fiascos must have occurred during production, Untogether remains a visually assured debut. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a debut, rather, a conclusive chapter in the lives of well lived-in characters. Just as Star Wars begins with episode IV, Forrest attacks her story late in the game. The result is an ensemble of complex characters, unresolved conflicts and unraveling relationships. All of this allows for a nuanced depiction of gender roles, in what the writer/director describes as a “female fantasy.” (Coincidentally, the film had all female department heads). Untogether is absorbing, funny, wistful, and above all human: an authentic portrayal of loneliness, and our need for vulnerability contrasted with our tendency to self-sabotage.
Forrest began her career in music criticism/journalism, and as she tells it, once you’ve experienced the abstraction of dissecting music, all other writing feels easier. She’s written three novels, and has been published in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harpers Bazaar, Time Out, The Guardian, NME, and countless others. She’s written screenplays before, too, some of which are still in development hell. Keep an eye peeled for her memoir Your Voice in My Head, and Liars (AE), which once upon a time had Richard Linklater attached to direct. Should Untogether receive the recognition it deserves, we may get to see Forrest bring another one of her dreams to realization in the coming years.