by George Wolf
It takes a full two minutes to get a really good feeling about Together Together.
Writer/director Nikole Beckwith delivers witty, engaging dialogue from the jump, defining characters and setting the stakes in a beautifully organic manner. This is much more difficult than Beckwith and her two leads make it appear.
Matt (Ed Helms) is interviewing Anna (Patti Harrison) to be the surrogate mother who’ll deliver his child. Matt, a forty-something app developer, is single but wants to be a father. 26-year-old Anna needs the money and wouldn’t mind the healthy deposit in the bank of good karma.
So if you’re keeping score, the film boasts a fresh premise, crisp writing and likable personalities before you’ve sipped your beverage of choice. And as we follow Matt and Anna from first trimester to labor, Together Together is never less than warm, insightful and lovely.
With no romance and only a few laugh out loud moments (most of those delivered by Sufe Bradshaw’s sarcastic medical tech and Julio Torres as an over the top barista), you can’t really call this a rom-com. But even that seems to fit. Just like Matt and Anna, Beckwith (helming her second feature after 2015’s Stockholm, Pennsylvania) is proudly going her own way.
Helms adds important layers to his usual nerd persona, slowly revealing more detailed reasons why Matt is choosing to be a single father, and why Anna is challenging his perceptions on nearly everything.
Harrison, whose resume sports mainly TV and voice work, delivers a fantastically understated breakout performance. Anna is pleasantly frank and sarcastic, but guarded. She’s hiding some scars, and Harrison reveals them with ease and authenticity.
Beckwith fills nearly every frame with a tender empathy that has us pulling for this offbeat pair as a matter of course, making it that much easier for her to reach us. From surrogacy and masculinity to Woody Allen, Friends, and the proper use of tampons, the film drops its insight in ways that are consistently fresh.
There’s love and family and funny stuff here, and though none of it is quite the kind we’re used to seeing, all of it is wonderfully real. Together Together is a delivery that somehow feels comfortable and unique, both overdue and right on time.