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Sundance 2021: Together Together Review

Ed Helms is Daddy? Not something you hear every day, but in Nicole Beckwith’s
second film, Together Together, Helms stars as Matt, a single father-to-be through the surrogacy system. Anna (Patti Harrison), who is twenty years his junior, applies for the role in order to fund a college dream that had once escaped her.

Beckwith has identified and told an underrepresented story with real sincerity and honesty. Helms is arguably at a career-best, and with Beckwith’s direction, he truly embodies the emotion and anxiety attached to an expectant parent. Matt revels in every rare “congratulations” and navigates the world of baby showers and nursery decor with every inch of enthusiasm an expectant mother is often graced with instead. Together, he and Harrison form unique chemistry that only the two fully understand, which is the real treat of this film.

As is to be expected in a world adjusting to our common circumstantial isolation, many films at Sundance this year explored themes of connection. Together Together did this in a way more subtle than others, focusing in on our need to understand people in a meaningful way to overcome disconnect. The age difference between them never once was fetishized or romanticised. Instead, it offered a real look at how we learn from people whose walks look different to our own.

It also speaks to the way our dreams sometimes end up in the hands of others, and how we have to trust people to carry it with as much care as we do. Each protagonist is closer to hope because of the other, and the way Matt speaks on hope and hopelessness is touching. It is so refreshing to see a film as uncynical as Together Together in a period such as the one we’re living. It offers the idea that by design, we thrive in community over solitude. Every scene carries that same hope that Matt does, even in its melancholier moments.

Both protagonists are easy to root for through the script penned by its director. It is funny, charming, off-beat at times and deftly relatable. Even secondary characters, such as Anna’s colleague (played by Julio Torres), are as engaging and funny as the leads. The tonal balance between comedy and thoughtfulness was near-perfect, and it made for a comforting ninety minutes. Perhaps it is the lack of intimacy with strangers in our present reality, but Together Together applies genuine affection to every interaction and cherishes the moments while honouring traditional narrative structure.

Verdict

People may argue it ends too soon, wishing that for just a few moments longer we could relish the relationship beyond initial intention, but Beckwith invites us to recognise that relationships change as circumstance does and allows us to come to terms with that in our own way. Life doesn’t necessarily run as neatly as a well-told story, and it seems Beckwith is happy to acknowledge that in the choice to end it where she does. The characters are in another chapter now, and we are invited to be, too.

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