Ed Helms and Patti Harrison lead Together Together, a warm tale about a couple of lonely souls uniting to make a problematic surrogate pregnancy work.
Dissecting Together Together is a difficult task. On the one hand, you can boil it down to a standard awkward comedy film about two people unsure of an off-kilter pregnancy. On the other hand, it is a candid yet unfocussed look at the impact pregnancy has on two very different yet soulfully similar people.
The film explores the ideas of youth in Patti Harrison’s character, Anna, who has already had a baby as a young woman. She will have to give up her second baby by the age of twenty-six and has some very mixed feelings about what people will think and her role in society as a single woman. This aspect of the story has genuine thought-provoking and emotional moments but feels slightly underdeveloped and rushed to make way for Ed Helms’ part. Helms embodies a forty-year-old bachelor who, for an unexplored reason, wants a child but does not have a partner in his life. His motivation is pretty straightforward and understandable, albeit basic and only lightly fleshed out.
Nearly every script and story beat imaginable is in here, right down to the eventual ‘ending of second act low point’ that comes out of nowhere. The two actors seem to have very little chemistry at the beginning of the film, setting up the potential for change and organic character growth; however, this growth never really comes. They just put their differences aside and get on with things, making a twenty-to-thirty minute portion of the film feel slightly redundant.
Nikole Beckwith writes and directs this movie with a comforting flat tone that doesn’t turn overly flashy and remains grounded throughout. Her direction and writing shine in how she breaks up the three acts as ‘trimesters’, which adds a whole new level of meaning to the story. There is an undeniable sense of warmth to the film, and both actors do a pretty good job of remaining naturalistic with their performances. While their characters are not as developed as possible, they do what they can with the material. Ed Helms is funny and awkwardly charming, but Patti Harrison is a gem, delivering a vulnerable and layered performance in her first leading film role. She is worth keeping an eye on in the future.
The ending feels very rushed, and there are not enough sequences exploring the potential life that comes after the surrogate child is born. Do they end up together? How involved is she in the child’s life? If the screenplay didn’t hint at these elements, these questions would not exist, but they do, making for an underwhelming ending. The characters lack crucial development, and the story structure leaves more questions asked than answered. Despite this, Together Together is a fine piece of warm cinema that will charm most that watch it. At ninety minutes, it’s an easily digestible experience with some good moments and a good message in its heart.
The film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.