Sundance 2021: Together Together (2021)

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Nikole Beckwith‘s second directorial feature Together Together is an unconventional romantic comedy starring Patti Harrison and Ed Helms. The film revolves around 40-something app developer Matt (Helms), who hires Anna (Harrison) to be his surrogate.

On the face of it, Together Together sounds like a typical romantic comedy. There is the loser in love and a cynical ‘love interest’ who find themselves drawn together. But for those anticipating romance, an effective and self-explanatory conversation involving Woody Allen to address their 20-year age gap pretty much kills this possibility. Besides, the film is much more that its mislabelled premise.

In her second directorial feature, Beckwith highlights society’s changing gender roles. 20-something Anna is a woman willing to hire out her uterus so she can return to school. Meanwhile, 40-something Matt is anticipating fatherhood, even if it is on his own. Their personal circumstances challenge the conventions of the traditional family unit of both a mother and father. The generational differences amid the characters and their relatives, notably Matt’s judgemental mother and Anna’s parents, also help develop the story’s emotional conflict.

Together Together also explores the boundaries of expectant parents and their surrogates. In other circumstances, Matt’s eagerness may make him a candidate for ‘Father of The Year’ but in this context, it comes across as anxious over-attentiveness. On the other hand, Anna reaffirms the rights to her own body and disagrees with Matt’s intrusion in her life. Yet despite being quite closed off, her turmoil in separating herself from the baby – and in turn, Matt – lingers under the surface.

Regardless of their differences, they are essentially alone and slowly bond over colours, baby things, and Friends. Helms and Harrison incorporate a sweet, heartfelt chemistry in their performances. Through Beckwith’s light-hearted direction, they deliver moments of sweetness and unexpected with a naturalness that not only elevates the story but makes any concept of romance between completely unnecessary.

Overall, the film is an understated gem. Thanks to Beckwith’s down-to-earth screenplay and its wonderful leads, Together Together shows that two people can emotionally connect without being physical…together.

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

Director: Nikole Beckwith
Stars: Patti Harrison, Ed Helms, Sufe Bradshaw
Runtime: 90 minutes
Country: USA

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