Who is ready for a new drama that is incredibly relatable due to all the craziness in the world today? That might be a tough question. For many movie fans, watching a movie means escapism from the stresses of the real world. Why do we love science fiction, fantasy, and action movies so much? They can help us get lost in the world of another that is hopefully relatable enough to connect but wondrous enough to not hit too personally. But sometimes a film can be hyper real and feel like you are in the thick of your own world. That is the exact approach taken by this new British film, Together.
How does Stephen Daldry (director) and Dennis Kelly (writer) achieve such hyper-realism? First things first, this is a film about quarantine shot during quarantine. Daldry’s film feels like it plays out like a stage play all caught on cameras. The two leads, James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan, speak directly to the camera for much of the run time. This is a bold decision as the film engages its audience in a unique way. There is an energy about the film as McAvoy and Horgan’s presence sets a spark to the proceedings. There is a smoothness to how the events play out due to the camera work and the direction.
Together is incredibly engrossing from a filmmaking perspective but what about Kelly’s screenplay? This film is really a tale of two stories. The most obvious is the challenges that COVID has put on this couple and England in general. The film takes this topic head on in a passionate and aggressive way. You will know the perspective that the filmmakers have, and you can feel the emotion and passion behind these thoughts (which hits deeply as we all have been through this same situation). The film tackles the wear and tear that this past year and a half has taken on all of us. Then the audience gets a direct line into the drama and tension in this couple. McAvoy and Horgan kill it as they pack an emotional punch in every scene of the film. You can feel contempt, insecurity, and vulnerability as they struggle with differing views, loss, and trying to survive this pandemic.
But this film is not perfect, is it? There are some specific shortcomings that quickly come to light. The nature of this film, the narrative can get a tad repetitive. How many times can we as an audience see this couple get in fights and argue? The film starts with a bang as these two characters run down each and in a venomous and harmful way. How likable are they? Not very. The restrictive circumstances also make for a less cinematic experience than you would hope for. There may be a lot of great themes and ideas in the film but there are a few occasions where the presentation becomes too on the nose. Speaking directly to the audience does not help alleviate the preachiness of sections of the dialogue. Finally, does their son just not matter that much? He is oddly sidelined A LOT in this film. That was an odd choice.
Despite its shortcomings, is Together a worthy drama? It certainly is. McAvoy and Horgan are enough on their own to bring as they bring the goods in every scene. The story is relevant and uncomfortably relatable. This one brings a stage performance feel to bring its rich themes to life. The film delivers the drama and the goods.