The true measure of a film’s success is meeting the bar of expectation. When a film stars Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis it has to be a masterpiece to surpass the bar and blow away audiences. If a movie is about two burn outs who can’t find their car then it just needs to serve a few laughs and memorable scenes to be deemed worthwhile.
One of the best parts of the Sundance Film Festival is going into theaters with absolutely no expectation and not knowing what you are in for. All you are given is a plot, a cast of actors you may know, and your own hopes for a passable hour and a half. The film Together Together takes a plot that may seem cliché and surpasses any expectations you may have.
Nikole Beckwirth (Stockholm, Pennsylvania) writes and directs a moving, surprising, heartwarming comedy about the journey of a man and his surrogate. The film opens as Matt, played by Ed Helms, interviews Anna (Patti Harrison) for the opportunity to carry his child. From the first scene you realize this journey is going to be anything but smooth or traditional. Helms and Harrison are equal parts hilarious and human. They use their gift of comedy to mask their vulnerability and instantly earn the adoration of the audience.
As the film follows the journey of a man in his 40s with no partner and a women in her mid 20s chosen to carry his child it delves into some very heavy topics. The themes range from lonliness, societal expectations, and emotional boundaries. When the film starts to go in a direction you think you have seen before Beckwith completely throws in a scene of dialogue or prolonged awkward silence that grounds the film in reality and off the Hollywood sugarcoating track.
The performances and chemistry of Helms and Harrison elevate this film to an incredibly memorable level. Its self awareness make the material incredibly accessible. Following Anna’s journey as a surrogate is one not normaly explored and how the film handles Matt’s lack of a partner and decision to father a kid alone is refreshing to see. They are played as human decisions made by real people. The film challenges audiences to root for them as people, not to root for a Hollywood ending and it’s a fresh, enjoyable choice.
Helms shows he should be known as much more than just a comedic actor or sidekick. His emotional range and vulnerability make you love Matt and want the best for him. Harrison is just as wonderful playing a complex, grounded woman who has experienced so much in her life but carries on through her humor, heart, and drive to still find her purpose.
As I began the film I expected Together Together to be a worthwhile, enjoyable rom-com. But it took those expectations and created a movie with much heart, complexity, and originality. I hope this film finds an audience and it encourages people going through similar situations that what they are doing is a truly wonderful thing.