Sundance 2021: Together Together

What does a middle aged loner do when he finds himself single but ready to start a family? Of course it would be ideal for Matt (Ed Helms) to have a partner, but time is running out and he’s ready now. Hence the surrogate. Anna (Patti Harrison) is a bit of a loner herself, so in a sense, they’re a well-matched pair. And then there’s the money, which Matt has and Anna needs. It’s a nice transaction for one womb’s rental for a 9 month period.

Except it turns out Matt’s enthusiasm for fatherhood supersedes his loner tendencies. He’s not just showing up for doctor’s appointments, he’s commenting on Anna’s eating habits, showing up at her work with maternity wear, taking her shopping, checking up on her love life, just generally getting very involved, not just in baby’s life, but in Anna’s. A beautiful but strange kind of friendship grows from this garden, one that neither saw coming, nor could they. With nothing much in common and from different generations, the baby is the thing that unites them, and that’s a temporary condition. Normally when the baby is born, the surrogate’s role would end, but with genuine friendship brewing, expectations are getting murkier, and Anna’s finding it very difficult to set boundaries.

This movie navigates an extremely complex and touchy subject with a light heart and a tender sweetness that’s hard to get right without accidentally overdosing on it. Ed Helms is a clever choice, of course, to play a doting, goofy guy with good intentions and a big heart. But Patti Harrison has the harder role to cast. We meet her in the middle of her surrogacy interview, so we don’t get to know her pre-pregnancy. Yet her sparkly and slightly spiky energy is so endearing and welcoming we can hardly blame Matt for being drawn into her orbit. But don’t be fooled by Together Together’s charm; this isn’t your typical Hollywood movie. The mere act of emphasizing platonic over romantic love is subversive, as is casting a trans woman in the lead role. Writer-director Nikole Beckwith knows the kinds of expectations you’ll have for a movie like this, and watching her swerve is pure pleasure.

4 thoughts on “Sundance 2021: Together Together

  1. Liz A.

    Oh yes, this particular trope does have a standard ending. I take it this doesn’t have that ending. But that’d be a good thing if done well.

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