2021 Sundance Review: Together Together

Director(s): Nikole Beckwith

Writer(s): Nikole Beckwith

Cast: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison

Synopsis: A 40-year-old man hires a young woman and their relationship challenges their perceptions of love.

We have seen the pregnancy story told countless times, but I don’t think we have ever seen it like this. A special film that breaks down the gender parental norms and gives us a male who is longing for that special connection in a child. Few times before have we seen the male take on this role, and it is a nice change to the stigma about parenting.

They actually touch on this a few times within the movie in showing the different reactions from people when they think Anna (Patti Harrison) is the sole mother vs when they realize Matt (Ed Helms) is going to be the sole father and showing the different help booklets that mothers have and fathers don’t. I think this is a problem in thinking that men cannot parent as well as women, and I think this was a really good look at the other side of the argument.

The acting in this from both Helms and Harrison were both really good as well. Each of them was lonely in their own right, and they learned to find love in the friendship of each other. I am an absolute sucker for romantic movies about friends, and this film fits right into that genre. However, I could do without the FRIENDS reference.

Ed Helms, in what is easily his most dramatic work to date, really surprised me here. It felt as though he was playing an older version of Andy Bernard, but I was okay with it. Helms really brought it as a lonely guy looking to take his next step. I love that his reasoning behind having a child was serious and thought out. You could really tell, through Helms, that Matt wanted this kid and wanted everything about him. The comedy was there, but he brought another level of heart that I haven’t seen from him. He also delivers one of my favorite lines in the film where he talks about being hopeful even though he is perceived as hopeless.

Patti Harrison was the stand out of the film as she played this other version of lonely. Her loneliness felt more hopeless, and through Helms, she was able to grow. You can see that growth over the course of the film as she is opening herself up more and more. Some moments frighten Anna, as they should, and Harrison is able to relay those fears and worries in such a well-constructed way.

I think the story that Nikole Beckwith brought to this film is an important one, and I think she tackled it with a lot of grace. I think her writing was a little bit better than her direction, but that is usually how you want it to go if one is better than the other. The film follows a lot of the same beat and paths of similar stories, but the role reversal was one that really worked for me. The score was another standout to me, and to find out Alex Somers composed it did not surprise me at all. I think Somers is one of the best composers working, and I cannot wait to see what is next for him. He has a beautiful and intimate approach that heightens absolutely everything he does, and I can’t wait to listen to this score over and over.

While this was a heartwarming and endearing story, I couldn’t help but think it was extremely light. The comedy far outweighed the drama in a way that made it feel, at times, like a passing by. I think, for the most part, that the structure of the film worked, but there were moments I was just hoping it would go a tad bit deeper. The movie was good, and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but very few truly striking moments held this back from being a truly great film. However, with saying that I thought the end of this film was absolutely magnificent. I won’t spoil anything, because it is a truly powerful scene, but I think it works tremendously. It will be one of those moments that sticks with me.

Final: Together Together is an endearing look into a man’s longing to be a father. It is a formula that we have seen before but told in a different way. Ed Helms and Patti Harrison both do wonderful jobs as lonely people longing for connection, and Alex Somers proves to be one of the most intimate composers working. Maybe should have dove deeper in some parts, but that ending will stick with me.

Grade: B+

2021 Sundance Coverage

2021 Film Rankings

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Tiffany Roohani

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