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Movie Review: 'Together Together' Sneaks Up On You

Human relationships are complicated, and there are all different kinds of them. But by and large, movies seem to tell only a few of those stories over and over. We’re leaving out a lot of people. 

Here is one kind of relationship I admit I haven't thought a lot about: the relationship between a man and his gestational surrogate. And not just a man, but a single man, a single man in his 40s. And her, a woman in her 20s, who isn't desperate, but could use the money to go back to school, and who figures this might not be a terribly difficult thing for her to do because she's already given up a child for adoption, when she became pregnant as a teenager.

All of these pieces must be so complex emotionally, and thankfully, the new movie Together Together treats them that way. But also thankfully, it doesn't treat them like insurmountable obstacles, they're just parts of lives and parts of what people do.

Together Together was probably my most pleasant surprise at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s a movie that seems like it gets off to a rocky start, trying a little too hard, but reveals that it’s been setting us up by playing on our assumptions about the kind of movie it’s going to be. It appears like it’s going to be an affable, if too-standard, romantic comedy, and while it stays affable, it very smartly skirts the romance. Much of what we see from the two leads, Patti Harrison and Ed Helms, is just conversation, as they try to sort out the feelings of what they're going through and who they are at this point in their lives. It sets us up to think they’ll fall in love, as people in movies do, but instead it simply lets them develop a real friendship, and knows that’s enough.

Our expectations make us want some things to happen that don’t, because the movie understands life isn’t a movie, and no part of life is forever. Is any of this transcendent? No. But it is warm, funny, intelligent, and rare.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.