Together Together: Review
Together Together Synopsis: When young loner Anna (Patti Harrison) is hired as the gestational surrogate for Matt (Ed Helms), a single man in his 40s who wants a child, the two strangers come to realize this unexpected relationship will quickly challenge their perceptions of connection, boundaries and the particulars of love.
Fresh off its Sundance 2021 debut, Together Together finds writer/director Nikole Beckwith engaging with romantic comedy conventions in her own naturalistic light. In a genre typically defined by artificially bound dynamics, Beckwith slyly morphs her material into a gentle celebration of friendship, self-acceptance, and the unlikely bonds between kindred spirits.
It may not appear glaringly obvious based on marketing materials, but Beckwith’s authentic effort subversively delineates from audiences’ hard-wired expectations. The director’s toned-down visual profile and a myriad of playful diatribes (a certain bit involving the broken expectations defined by Woody Allen movies feels like a much-needed call to action) skillfully set the tone for a welcomed change-of-pace for the genre. That’s not to say Beckwith holds romantic comedies in a place of contempt, as her film manages to rework familiar beats while maintaining the genre’s open-hearted embrace of human connection (her film is also a welcomed view of the surrogate process, which is typically defined in Hollywood by tired stereotypes).
Together Together’s low-key appeals are perfectly suited for its central duo. Ed Helms is synonymous with playing energetic, overly-earnest dweebs that are seemingly drawn up from a wave of Hollywood contrivances. Here, Helms dials down those overworked tendencies to portray Matt in a genuine light. The Hangover star keeps his playful comedic energy intact while highlighting the character’s appeals as a kind-hearted loner looking to start a family on his own terms.
For Patti Harrison, her role as Anna should serve as one of the year’s breakout performances. Harrison’s acerbic wit and affectionate glow define Anna as a charming self-starter who’s trying to find her own place in the world. Helms and Harrison are a delight to watch together on screen, with the duo slow-cooking the pair’s initial awkwardness into a meaningful dynamic defined by care and positive intentions. Their authentic friendship stands as a slight yet welcomed reminder of friendship’s sacrifices and challenges.
Together Together is a delight from jump street, although the film doesn’t completely reinvigorate rom-com’s inherent cutesiness. Beckwith relies too heavily on montages to drive her narrative forward, often leaving important bits of character development offscreen in favor of whisking the audience forward. As a 90-minute piece of entertainment, Beckwith’s film consistently works, but I can’t help wishing the characters and subject matter were met with a bit more nuance.
Minor quibbles aside, Together Together is a welcomed surprise. Beckwith’s adoring story of friendship deserves recognition as one of the year’s first feel-good crowdpleasers.