Ed Helms and Patti Harrison charm in Nikole Beckwith’s refreshing, pleasurable dramedy.
(This review is part of our coverage of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.)
Nikole Beckwith’s Together Together doesn’t break any new ground. But it doesn’t have to — the film’s greatest pleasure lies simply in watching every part of the story fall into place the way we predict and expect it to. The dramedy is only Beckwith’s second feature, but despite its familiarity, it’s a pleasurable and refreshing experience. It’s light and witty, often packed with laughs and touching moments, with two stellar lead performances at its heart.
Ed Helms stars as Matt, a lonely 45-year-old app developer with a dream of becoming a father despite not having a partner. We first meet him while he’s interviewing a potential gestational surrogate for his baby. The candidate in question is a 26-year-old barista named Anna (Patti Harrison), who needs the money to get back to school (she dropped out of high school when she got pregnant the first time). Though the interview goes as ludicrously as you’d expect, no thanks to the pair’s different personalities — Anna is sarcastic and has a dry sense of humor, while Matt is open and wears his heart on his sleeve — the two decide to pair up. So begins a nine-month journey of pregnancy, one filled with awkward therapy sessions, ultrasound tests, and birthing classes.
In most movies of this type, the pregnancy is what gives the story its main narrative purpose, something that challenges the prospective mother to rethink their perspective on motherhood. But while pregnancy is obviously integral to the movie, Together Together‘s main focus is the central relationship between Matt and Anna. Beckwith is more interested in exploring the dynamic between these two people, who have completely different views on life, as they navigate pregnancy together and as the platonic relationship between them grows.
It’s light and witty, often packed with laughs and touching moments, with two stellar lead performances at its heart.
The moments where Matt learns about boundaries or when Anna tries to be more open and less cynical are where Together Together gets most of its tenderness. In that regard, the movie shows us how the power of human connection can make us be better people and can help us heal from the pain of loneliness. Yes, this may not seem that original: plenty of other movies have explored these themes before, but it doesn’t make Together Together any less engaging.
Beckwith’s directing style leans more on subtlety instead of drama. Every scene feels intimate and more interesting than it’s supposed to be; it’s charming enough that it’s nearly impossible to not care about the characters or where the story is going. It’s a testament to her assured direction and honest writing that Together Together doesn’t feel too saccharine or emotionally manipulative, even when the premise suggests otherwise.
Holding everything together are the two leads, who give impressive performances. As Matt, Helms shows real maturity rarely found in his other performance, while still delivering perfect comic timing. But it’s Harrison who stands out the most — her Anna is sensitive even in her cynicism. Harrison always provides her with depth and vulnerability. The easy chemistry between the two also makes the film all the more endearing and sweet. By the time the movie ends, you’ll feel like you know them inside out.
Together Together may not say anything new about relationships and human connection. But when a simple movie hits all the right notes like this, it’s difficult to not fall in love with it. Beckwith has made something delightful — a platonic dramedy that is both tender and poignant at the same time, packed with big heart and honesty.
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