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Who We Were

average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Apr 5, 2024

Film Reviews
Who We Were
Directed by:
Ryan Spahn
Written by:
Connor Delves
Julia Randall, Connor Delves

Covid remains arguably the most significant cultural event that influences art and cinema in 2024, at least indirectly. 2021’s Who We Were was filmed in the midst of the pandemic and is set during the lockdowns, yet maintains a timeless quality as a reflective contemplation on how life changed when the world stopped.


The film is staged through lucid moments shared by a young couple Sadie (Julia Randall) and Sam (Connor Delves) during the lockdown. The pair bond in the ordinary extraordinariness of everyday life in lockdown with each other, making use of a camera to capture meaningless moments – that begin to grow in significance as their relationship experiences bumps.


Shot under pandemic restrictions, Who We Were uses Covid as a silent backdrop in its hands-off story of a young relationship that comes unstuck over time. Shot in black and white, with innovative bursts of colour upon the taking of a photograph, the film uniquely captures the past tense, establishing itself as a look back at moments in two lives despite following a chronological path. Director Ryan Spahn injects a dreamlike timelessness into the narrative – with Sam and Sadie’s relationship unfurling outside of an established time scale. It is this that empowers the reflective themes, particularly at the film’s conclusion, as the viewer places themselves in the position of one member of the couple in trying to piece together how things broke down.


The film is shot intimately, bringing viewers up-close to Sam and Sadie in their closest moments and withdrawing in others to represent distance and a growing divide. Set mostly in their shared residence, we see small yet telling intricacies in the face of Julia Randall as Sadie begins to grow fraught with Sam. The monochrome imagery is illuminated and concealed through brilliant lighting that makes the film vivid and visually engaging despite its relatively mundane setting. Scenes shot in mostly darkness are a particular accomplishment, which represent the couple’s bond in what would usually be a haunting framing.


Who We Were may actually excel more in 2024 than it did in 2021. The creativity of the direction and production, coupled with strong leading performances would have been notable at the initial time of release. However, the powerful additional sense of reflection present when watching today of the time in which the film is set only adds to the central theme of the film which focuses on reflection on a relationship. It’s touching, emotional and powerful, and a fine example of the creativity inherently linked to the lockdown.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film
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