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Together Together is about a 26-year-old gestational surrogate navigating the unique relationship she has with the 40-something single man whose child she’s carrying.
Patti Harrison (Shrill, I Think You Should Leave) and Ed Helms (The Office) anchor this character-driven two-hander with delightful appearances by Tig Notaro, Anna Konkle, Rosalind Chao (Mulan), Fred Melamed (The Spy Who Dumped Me) and Nora Dunn (Tag).
This film is a reminder of how much a good independent film can make us feel. With so much general saturation and more specifically the torture that the arthouse dramedy has gone through, it’s no surprise this movie didn’t get the attention it deserves. But with multiple Spirit Award nominations (best actor nom for Harrison and best screenplay to writer/director Nikole Beckwith), hopefully it will reach more.
Nine months is enough time for two adults to become very intimate; add in a shared pregnancy and that intimacy is magnified. The particularity of a relationship between surrogate and parent has been very under-explored on film, and the plight of a single dad by choice is even more so. This film explores it and does it very well. You feel like you go on the surrogacy journey with both Anna (Harrison) and Matt (Helms) and all of their fish-out-of-water moments specific to the world of pregnancy: Anna’s shared food logs, her dating life with a bump, Matt’s perfectionistic struggles in prepping the baby room, learning about tampons if the baby is a girl, Lamaze class as a non-couple.
Anna starts off wanting to treat their relationship transactionally and as Matt bends the boundaries, things expectedly get complicated. Writer/director Nikole Beckwith artfully conveys the uncertainty of what will happen once the baby arrives and speaks to the relentless explaining both characters have to do in day-to-day interactions.
It would be a crime not to talk about the writing in this film—Beckwith brings poetic and funny exchanges without losing the realism of the familiar. Her humor comes from the situations she’s put these characters in and the humanity she infuses into the dialogue. When Matt and Anna visit a crib store together, the woman helping them assumes Anna is a single mom and reacts with pity. Upon learning Matt is a single father by choice, that same woman responds with endearment. Anna simply responds honestly by saying “Why is the idea of me being a single mom ‘ugh’ and the idea of him being a single dad ‘aww’?”
Beckwith also solicits laughs by holding a mirror up to human behavior without judgment. Konkle slays at playing birth center guide Shayleen who welcomes Matt and Anna into her pre-natal class and asks, “And is there a third partner?” referring to Matt’s assumed spouse. When she learns that Matt is single, Shayleen responds with a long pause and says, “Wonderful,” in that way an uber supportive birth guide would. It’s these kinds of well-observed interactions that make Together Together special and cathartic.
This film is heartwarming and heartbreaking in all the ways you want in a character-driven indie about a subject matter that we need to talk more about. It’s a tale of modern family (in the making).
Cozy up on the couch with something warm—you’ll feel right at home when Matt sips on the pregnancy tea he brings Anna at her work.