In “Untogether,” first-time writer-director Emma Forrest presents a forced mélange of behaviors, misbehaviors, peccadilloes, backstories and symbolism as she spins out this intersecting tale of troubled sisters Andrea and Tara (real-life siblings Jemima and Lola Kirke, respectively) and their troubled relationships. Despite flashes of something greater at work, it’s a largely unsatisfying, unevenly-paced drama.
The women have a credible but underexplored excuse for their issues: a musician-father who battled heroin (hooking a teenaged Andrea in the process), got clean, then died, leaving his daughters his Los Angeles home, which they now share. Pink-haired, tattooed Andrea, a onetime novelist a year out of rehab, lives in the backyard twee-house, er, treehouse.
Tara, a facialist, is seeing the inexplicably devoted Martin (Ben Mendelsohn, Forrest’s ex-husband), a rumpled ex-rock star at least twice her age. But susceptible and searching, Tara finds herself drawn to a soulful rabbi (a nice turn by Billy Crystal).
Meanwhile, the erratic Andrea’s one-night stand with narcissistic doctor and memoirist Nick (Jamie Dornan) turns into a sex-and-angst-fueled affair. Frankly, they deserve each other.
The Kirkes are attractive and intriguing actresses, Mendelsohn again proves one of the best screen actors around and Dornan looks great in scrubs. But it’s hard be sure exactly what Forrest is trying to say here and the film isn’t compelling or appealing enough to sufficiently care.
Rated: R, for sexual content, language and brief graphic nudity
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: Starts Feb. 8, ArcLight Cinemas, Sherman Oaks; also on VOD