Together Together Points Out How Weird Pregnancy Is (With Lots of Charm)
Film: Together Together
Director: Nikole Beckwith
Category: Feature – U.S. Dramatic
I am so glad this is the last film I got to see at Sundance this year. Together Together is lovely and it shows how weird pregnancy really is. It’s weird, the way we talk about it is weird, the way we treat pregnant women is weird, the way we treat single dads is weird, all of it, just so weird. Nikole Beckwith’s second film at Sundance Film Festival following her feature film directorial debut with Stockholm, Pennsylvania (2015) is a charming success that also reminds us that sometimes the most important relationships we’ll ever have are the platonic ones, not the romantic ones.
This film follows Matt (Ed Helms, The Office), a middle-aged single guy, as he prepares for fatherhood with a surrogate, Anna (Patti Harrison, A Simple Favor) a 20-something trying to figure life out, carrying his baby. Starting out with a very candid interview between the two about the requirements they each had for the surrogacy, the film then cuts to Matt and Anna celebrating the pregnancy being viable at a restaurant. This is when the questions about how we treat pregnant women begin. As Anna orders her food, Matt makes a disapproving noise about her ordering an “unhealthy” meal, so she orders a salad instead. Matt then orders carbonara and Anna points out that it’s strange for Matt to judge her food choices when she only has to carry the baby for 9 months but he just ordered pasta with bacon and he has to take care of his kid for at least 18 years. She’s right, why are we so concerned about what pregnant women eat when we should be just as concerned about what the dad of the child is eating seeing as he should be healthy to be around for his child’s life? This film is so aware and ready to question certain reactions throughout the relationship and surrogacy that are entirely fair questions about the culture we have around pregnancy and relationships.
Initially, Anna’s expectation is that Matt would occasionally check-in and she would have his baby then be done, but Matt wants to be involved as possible. From ultrasound visits with a patient yet frank ultrasound technician (Sufe Bradshaw, Veep) to relationship therapy visits with therapist Madeline (Tig Notaro, Instant Family) the film brings you on the highs and lows of Anna’s pregnancy and the relationship she and Matt have. With anyone else besides Ed Helms playing Matt, this level of clinginess might have come off as too much, but he plays it so sweetly and genuinely it’s hard not to be just as invested as he is.
Their friendship grows as they pick out nursery paint colors and shop for baby things (for the baby they nickname “Lamp” as Matt doesn’t want to know the sex of the baby and they wanted to stop calling the baby “it”). At one point, they go shopping for cribs, and when the salesperson reacts sadly to the idea that Anna is a single mom but happily for Matt being a single dad, both of them call her out on it. Again, they’re right, why is it sad for Anna to be a mom on her own (if it was her baby) and good for Matt to be a middle-aged single dad? At the baby shower, everyone just treats Anna like a vessel carrying a baby instead of a person that’s helping Matt make his version of family. When they go to pregnancy preparation classes, the hippie lady leading the class doesn’t really know how to refer to Matt and Anna’s situation in comparison to the other couples. When they go to group sessions with soon-to-be parents and fellow surrogacy carriers, neither really relates to the rest of the people in the group because their situation is unique.
Both Matt and Anna are lonely in their own ways. Matt because he is still single even though he doesn’t fit in with single friends but he doesn’t belong with his married friends with kids. He wants to make his own kind of family because a more traditional version of that had never worked out. Anna moved away from her hometown to be with a guy who left her after her family had rejected her for having a baby as a teenager that she gave up for adoption. Both of these people don’t really fit into the normal roles of people in their age range or where they should be in life, and the film does a wonderful job showing that wherever you’re at and whatever you’re going through, that’s okay.
The chemistry between these two leads is instantaneous. Their friendship is so natural on-screen, Helms and Harrison make this acting thing look easy. But the two also sell the melancholy that this movie has within its unique tone. This movie is about two people who are alone, not lonely, trying to figure out what life is like for their own situation. The film deftly navigates the nuance of platonic relationships, and how even though they may be for a limited time, they impact us forever (even if they don’t give us a baby).
Together Together was the perfect ending for my 2021 Sundance Film Festival. A beautiful story with such a unique tone, Nikole Beckwith strikes a great balance between funny and melancholic with so much charm and heart. The film asks important questions about how we view gender roles and pregnancy and family and relationships that we should look to examine within our own lives. When Together Together comes out take an afternoon to watch with your friends, and tell them that you love them.
Review Score: 5/5
Where Can You Watch: Together Together film was purchased by distribution company Bleecker Street back in December, but no release date has been set. You can check for updates on Bleecker Street’s website (link: https://bleeckerstreetmedia.com/together-together)
Bonus Content: Check out the Q&A with director Nikole Beckwith and cast members Ed Helms, Patti Harrison, and Tig Notaro on the Sundance Film Festival Youtube channel. This Q&A is just as funny as the movie itself, so definitely watch this if you have the time. Watch here (link: https://youtu.be/zAI6QZWZvpY)