In the dark comedy We’re All In This Together, Toronto’s Katie Boland proves herself as a skilled director and outstanding actor.
The film is an adaptation of Amy Jones’ bestselling book of the same name, about four women in a dysfunctional family learning to communicate with one another. ”I was really moved by it. I thought the dialogue was very vivid and screen ready,” says Boland, who wrote the screenplay, directed the film, and ambitiously decided to take on both starring roles as twin sisters Finn and Nicki Parker.
After their mother survives an attempted suicide—death by rolling over a waterfall in a barrel—Finn and Nicki are forced to reunite while they wait for their mother to rise from a coma. Life is not pleasant under the same roof, there is a lot of wine chugging, swearing, shouting, and a slew of angry offhand remarks. Although it sounds painful to watch, it’s actually quite entertaining; Boland is magnificent at playing dueling sisters Finn and Nicki. Watching her scowl, scream and fight it out is amazing theatre. The wardrobe choices and physical differences of each character are also really fun.
To say We’re All In This Together is Boland’s most ambitious project to date is an understatement—she threw everything she had at this project, and as an audience member, you can feel that. To write, star in, and direct a film is a major accomplishment, but taking this on was also deeply personal for Boland. Like her character Finn, Boland has her own history with alcohol-use disorder.
“It was important to explore addiction through the lens of a dysfunctional family because I feel like that’s something that I know very well. I’m now three years sober. My brother is seven years sober. My father’s sober, there is a ton of alcoholism in my family,” says Boland, who is open about the fact that making the film has played a huge role in her own recovery. “After deciding I was going to write and direct We’re All In This Together, there was sort of an explosion in me. I wanted to create something that helped me understand myself, my family, and why I was so willing to hide in the past. I believe We’re All in this Together can be a mirror that might help you understand those things too.”
Not many people would willingly take on so much in one project—it’s a big risk! For Boland, however, stepping into the unknown, being vulnerable, and looking fear in the eye, is something she constantly works on in her own recovery. “You have to just keep being brave. The film is going to be reviewed, I don’t know how it’s going to be reviewed. A lot of people that are in my life that I love and care about are going to see it. But when you either work the 12-step program or you’ve chosen to be sober you have to keep being brave.”
We’re All In This Together is a testament to Boland’s daring spirit and sheer wizardry. The film is also a wonderful reminder that most families are a little fucked up. “When there’s addiction issues in a family, there are often other really incredible things too… Like creative talent, and a lot of empathy. So I became very grateful for my gene pool,” says Boland with a buoyancy that makes us smile. Therapy can be transformative, but reframing the narrative can also do wonders for relationships.