An ex-con (Julianne Nicholson) forms an unlikely alliance with an idealistic lawyer (Emma Roberts) to regain custody of her young son, in this affecting drama from writer-director Matthew Newton (From Nowhere).
Tough, compassionate, and so very wise, Who We Are Now, Matthew Newton's fourth feature as writer-director, is a declaration of faith in our capacity for change. When we first meet Beth (Julianne Nicholson) she is delivering a little gift to a young boy, a gesture that clearly gives her as much pleasure as it unsettles the child's caregivers, her sister and brother-in-law. How this circumstance arose and where it will lead is the crux of the story, its potent intricacies masterfully revealed.
Beth's complex past will determine her future unless she can find an ally, and soon an unlikely one appears in the form of lawyer Jess (Emma Roberts). Opting to toil for a struggling firm dedicated to pro-bono cases instead of pursuing a more prestigious law career, Jess is the black sheep of her affluent family, and Beth's best available option.
Beth's pathway to justice and stability forms the core of the film, but her story doesn't unfold in a vacuum. This is an ensemble film, and even supporting characters — such as the traumatized veteran and divorcé portrayed by Zachary Quinto — are complicated people working through damage and reparations, conviction and compromise. But it is Julianne Nicholson's performance as Beth, whose flinty exterior masks a frail heart and a burning soul, that imprints itself upon the viewer. Who We Are Now is a film grounded in the understanding that this thing we call the self is always going to be determined by a confluence of circumstance, awareness, and damned hard work.