What’s new, everybody? If you’re searching for a thoughtfully intimate story that boils down to the potency of platonic love, look no further than Together Together, the 2021 dramedy from writer-director Nikole Beckwith (she made her feature directorial debut with the 2019 Saoirse Ronan-starring drama Stockholm, Pennsylvania) about the joys, the burdens, and everything in between being faced by 26-year-old barista Anna (Patti Harrison) and single middle-aged app developer Matt (Ed Helms) after the former becomes a gestational surrogate for the latter’s prospective child.
The premise is intrinsically ripe for using a wealth of preposterous hijinks and raunchy gags to exploit the awkwardness and discordance between the two leads through their age disparity and their contrasting outlooks on life. I’m not saying this would have been a bad thing, but I personally prefer the quietly perceptive warmth that Beckwith chose to instill in her screenplay and her direction. Sure, it takes a few stabs at cringe comedy, which didn’t always stick the landing for me, but they’re offset by the authentic and touching nature of the bond that we get to watch develop between Anna and Matt over the course of her pregnancy. Whether they’re picking out colors for the nursery with the varied meanings behind certain colors in the back of their minds, debating if they should learn the baby’s sex, or sharing a brief but surprisingly moving moment over Matt revealing to Anna the candy-centric routine he had with an ex, I was always invested in their journey and the questions they posed about parenthood and friendship. The fact that platonic male-female relationships are a rarity to see in media—and in a form that shows them being as strong as heterosexual love—makes this all the more impressive.
The suitably cast stars deserve plenty of credit for tapping into the film’s reflective tone. Helms is more introspective than we’ve usually seen him in his broad comedies. He brings an understated likability to Matt, someone who acknowledges that people believe he’s sunk in despair as a lonely guy in his 40s employing gestational surrogacy, someone who counters that image and any negative feelings he may have about his position with optimism and the goal of connecting with Anna.
Personally, I find Harrison to be the one who kills it onscreen. Like most viewers of Together Together, I’d been previously unfamiliar with her in spite of the fact that her work includes Broad City, Search Party, and Shrill. She wields a wry sense of humor that meshes with Anna’s world-weary cynicism, fuels the character through her pregnancy as it dredges up internal baggage with her family, and acts as an appropriate foil to Helms’s affability. I’ll be looking out for more of Harrison’s projects in the future.
The movie also includes cameos from Tig Notaro (Punching Henry), Julio Torres (HBO’s Los Espookys), and Anna Konkle (Hulu’s Pen15), with Notaro being especially enjoyable as the straight-faced couples therapist who attends to Matt and Anna.
Without diving deep into spoilers, Beckwith adds the finishing touch to her film by building it up to a last shot that leaves things fittingly open-ended. The conclusion, rather than wrapping up with Hollywood-level tidiness, conveys not only a transition into the next chapter of Anna and Matt’s lives, but also, in a larger context, the perpetual march of life. I can’t imagine the movie ending on any less of a clever note.
Together Together is currently streaming on Hulu, so make sure you add it to your watchlist.
Until next time, stay healthy and stay strong!
Windup score: 90/100