Everyone is familiar with loneliness to a certain degree, which makes Nikole Beckwith’s Together Together a universally relatable film. The story is simple, it chronicles the brief, completely platonic relationship between an app designer in his 40’s named Matt, played by Ed Helms, and a barista in her 20s, Anna, played by Patti Harrison. Matt wants to become a father but has no partner to share the experience with, and chooses Anna as his surrogate. It’s a lighthearted, feel-good film that explores what it’s like to be alone and the value of friendship, even if it’s an unconventional one.
Both performances from Ed Helms and Patti Harrison are wonderful. It’s a highly character-centric narrative driven by their external and internal conflicts, and the two take on the task well. Harrison’s character deals with a lot more internal conflict, and she displays them accurately during pivotal scenes. Helms’ actions could come across as intrusive and annoying, but he performs Matt with such enthusiasm (even if it’s misplaced) that it’s difficult to dislike him.
Not only that, but for the subject matter to feel more like a conversation than a soap-box lecture, their back and forth has to feel like a natural dialogue between two people. Most of the critical success in finding that tone hinges on the actors’ believability within their roles, and both of them come across as friends who do genuinely care for each other despite everything.
The strongest aspect of Together Together is its writing. Nearly its entire structure as a film relies on the exchanges between Matt and Anna. Matt is over-eager and as a result, is oblivious when it comes to boundaries. Anna is more reserved, deadpanned, and has no problem putting him in his place. The relationship between them begins as incredibly awkward and the second-hand embarrassment is painfully palpable. It perfectly encapsulates and mirrors how unlikely friendships operate, and as the pair inevitably become more comfortable with each other, the relationship blossoms. The writing that accompanies this metamorphosis is smart and witty, and broaches topics, such as the nature of friendship and acceptable boundaries, while remaining meaningful.
Together Together touches on a plethora of topics including pregnancy and dating and female autonomy, but the film centers on the concept of friendship. Matt and Anna’s relationship is purely platonic and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air. Matt doesn’t have a partner, but he wants to move on with the next stage of his life, and that’s becoming a father. Meanwhile, Anna is estranged from her family. They both feel that gap in them, that place where interpersonal connection should fit, and they reflect on it together. You don’t need a romantic partner or a good relationship with your family to feel whole, there are other people who love and care for you and that’s just as valuable.
Another issue closely related to the fulfillment of platonic relationships is the fulfillment of temporary relationships. Is a relationship valuable, is it worthwhile, if it has a timer attached that’s ticking down? The film plays on this idea when it ends rather abruptly, but it’s an apt decision for the story it’s telling. It finds a good balance between these big themes and its organic, lighthearted nature. It doesn’t dip too deep into themes of isolation, but instead, it quietly chews on these ideas throughout its runtime.
While the word is thrown around a lot, I truly found Together Together to be a heartwarming film. I mean that literally, I physically felt the phantom fuzziness of my heart warming in my chest. I even physically laughed out loud, even though much of the humor is either dry or tongue-in-cheek (in a good way). It’s a comfortable film while also feeling new, and something that’s bound to bring a smile to your face and make you feel a little less alone. Movies about the power of platonic love sometimes feel like an oasis in a desert of solitude, and I’m grateful that Together Together gave us that much-needed rest and retrospection.