CUFF Review: Ed Helms and Patti Harrison Defy Expectations in 'Together Together' Directed by Nikole Beckwith

CUFF Review: Ed Helms and Patti Harrison Defy Expectations in 'Together Together' Directed by Nikole Beckwith
7
Hollywood has trained audiences to expect a film's leads to end up together. That's part of what writer and director Nikole Beckwith has to handle in Together Together: with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison as the stars in any kind of comedy, a hemisphere will light up in any brain attuned to rom-coms.

Among the many adept dramatic choices in this movie, Beckwith makes that tension come across in a natural, funny way. Helms and Harrison find a natural way into it at a critical point in the movie. Their characters stake positions and cover the issue enough that it's talked through and then moved on from.

Small turns and choices like this are what distinguish Together Together from other indie-styled comedies. In it, Helms plays Matt, a single app developer who, reaching an Ed Helms-ish age, has decided not to wait for a partner to get a child. Through a surrogate service, he's connected with Anna (Harrison), a barista younger than him and closer to a Patti Harrison type in age.

She's disconnected from anyone outside of and most people within Los Angeles, shunning roots back home that previously shunned her. Anna also isn't looking for a deeper connection; she's content living out her younger years in a big city with few permanent connections.

The ground each stakes out is one of the first interesting wrinkles to this oddball comedy. Matt would seem to be the higher status character, as the one whose baby is being carried by Anna; he is the one with financial means between the two of them, the one with age and assumed experience. That isn't the case, though. Harrison brings Anna a coolness, an assuredness that sends Matt scrambling time and time again as they're blurring lines between surrogate and friend.

The slight shifts in character and creeping rapprochement between the two are the stuff of gentle comedy, the kind that won't break a scene but sit easily inside it. So often, Helms and Harrison, two notable comedic performers, find plenty to mine in the unusual, shifting ground of their relationship for laughs. At the same time, the humour is flavour to a meeting of two people at different points in their lives. In either sense, Together Together is successful.

The story unfolds with ease, captured with natural-seeming lighting and static cameras that lock easily into shot/reverse shot conversational rhythms. That mellow approach feels in keeping with characters whose own movements aren't monumental. We're allowed access to a meeting of two people who might feel comfortable revealing themselves; that's the pleasure of this film.

Calgary Underground Film Festival runs online from April 23 to May 2, 2021. Get more information at the festival's website. (levelFILM)