Julia Mayorga stars as Benita, a student whose life has unravelled after a sexual assault.
We meet Benita as she is being discharged from a psych facility. She goes home to her widowed mother (Saundra Santiago), who doesn’t know what has happened to Benita.
In flashback, there are glimpses of Benita’s assault at the hands of a stranger.
As she attempts to recover at home, she decides she doesn’t want to go back to college, where she feels vulnerable.
But being home in the old neighbourhood is not the comfort she had thought it might be, because she has outgrown her friends.
Still, she is determined to get her feet back on the ground and move forward in life. She decides to find a job and gets work at an antique store.
It’s a very posh shop. Benita has to perform a bit of class fraud to get the job, but she’s bright and the owner (Alan Cumming) warms to her.
One day a rich young woman named Diana (Katie Holmes) comes into the antique shop with her brother. They buy a few things, and the boss is impressed that Benita has made a sale.
What the boss doesn’t know is that Benita and the troubled Diana have crossed paths before. The two women become fast friends, and in that friendship comes healing for both (although not without some odd class friction that may be a leftover from the story’s original 1930s setting; that’s a guess.)
One of the things that happens at the antique store in Rare Objects is that beautiful things sometimes get broken and require repair.
So it is with people.
The heart of the thing seems to be Benita’s conversation with her boss about the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi — embracing transience and imperfection.
Benita slowly comes into her own and shapes a life for herself. Diana is not as lucky.
As for imperfections, Holmes’ film has its share, particularly in length and pacing, but a bit of rigor in the editing room might have solved that.
It’s easy to speculate that as co-writer Holmes may have got too close to the material; there are too many minor subplots and characters detracting from the main narrative. It’s quite maddening at times.
On the other hand, Holmes has a terrific cast offering strong performances, and that cast includes the underrated Derek Luke as co-owner of the antique store.
Holmes and Luke starred in Pieces of April together 20 years ago, and then as now, Luke’s impressive gravitas allows him to steal every scene he’s in.
Rare Objects is an homage to female friendship and a reminder to forget your perfect offering/There is a crack, a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in. As Leonard Cohen put it. Succinctly.