Indie films aimed at the 40-and-over demographic have enjoyed a pretty robust market in recent years, but have taken it on the chin during Covid. Not every movie getting released now knows quite how to handle it, but there’s only so much escapism to go around. Together stares down that challenge as joy, pain, and humor collide on a heartfelt journey for one couple that’s forced to navigate their troubled relationship head-on as lockdown goes into effect in the UK.
Dennis Kelly wrote a magnificent script that deep dives into the hearts and minds of its characters in a way that you rarely see. Just based on the nature of some of the dialogue, I’m going to guess this was a very personal screenplay. While the majority of the story focuses on the relationship between the characters, there’s the specter of Covid looming overhead the whole time. There’s a point where the film shifts gears to a more expository and direct criticism of the UK government’s response (or lack thereof) to the virus and the human toll associated with it. Especially because there’s no fourth wall, this moment is particularly sharp and passionate.
Directors Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin were challenged with making this movie engaging even though it takes place all in the same house, in the same kitchen and living room area actually. Breaking down that fourth wall was one of those mechanisms to bring the viewer into the home. There was also good use of continuous shots that surveyed the home and put the performers into a more stage-like atmosphere and that amplified the performances.
This was a tiny operation with only three actors, two really because Samuel Logan is mostly just in the background as the couple’s son Artie. Sharon Horgan gives a powerful and passionate performance that still draws on her comedic chops to give the emotional cues their proper gravity. I don’t know if the role was written for her specifically, but it seemed like it and her turn was one of the year’s best.
Across from her is James McAvoy who finally stepped away from some franchise work and it was wonderful to see him back in this kind of role. It’s the kind of performance that reaffirms how talented of an actor he is. Classically trained with a long history of stage work, all that comes shining through in this environment. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen this year and could signal his first foray into Oscar contention…even though that’s long overdue.
This is a different kind of movie experience and it’s definitely aimed at more mature audiences, but the humor is intelligent and the subject matter is tangible for everyone. It’s a well-made film, especially considering the limitations but minimalism lends itself well to the subject matter.
Recommendation: Fans of the show Catastrophe will probably be familiar with the tone, but see it for the wonderful performances and intimate filmmaking.
Wow! This is my 400th post, so I’d like to give a very special thank you to everyone who has continued to support this blog and help make 2021 the most-read year yet. And, as usual, if you like what I’m doing, please spread the word. Be well, be safe, and have fun no matter how you get your movies!