Monday, April 29, 2019

Someone Great Is A Charming Ode To Love Lost And The Friends We Made Along The Way

New Yorker Jenny Young (Gina Rodriguez), the lead character of Someone Great, just had the worst break-up. After nearly a decade of dating Nate Davis (Lakeith Stanfield), the two have split up after he refused to try a long-distance relationship with Jenny once she moves to Los Angeles for her new job at Rolling Stone. Emotionally distraught, it's time for Jenny's two best friends, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow), to help their best friend get out of her post-breakup funk. How will they plan to do this? By going to a splashy concert, tickets to which are extremely hard to come by. Tracking down those tickets will take the trio on an adventure that will keep reminding Jenny of the relationship she just lost as well as the great friendships she still has.

When thinking about Someone Great, the first word that comes into my mind is "charming". So much of this movie, which serves as the feature film directorial debut of writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, fits that word, it's a highly amiable endeavor that finds much of its charm originating from its trio of lead performances. Save for recurring flashback sequences to Jenny and Nate's time together as a couple, Robinson's script is entirely reliant on dialogue exchanges between the three lead characters, a bold creative decision that ends up being a brilliant move given how entertaining Rodriguez, Wise and Snow are in their interactions together. Why wouldn't you build much of your movie out of the entertaining rapport they share?

Best of all in the endearing chemistry shared by the three leads is how effortlessly believable they come across as real-life long-time best friends. Jenny, Erin and Blair are characters just as capable of driving each other crazy as they are at being the best possible source of moral support, being able to swing between those two extremes without fail is a core tenant of prolonged friendships. Such authentic complexity, as well as a consistent undercurrent of support for one another, is captured nicely in the interactions between the trio of main actors. Rodriguez, Wise and Snow don't just function well as actors when working together as a group though, they each get plenty of chances to shine as individual performers throughout Someone Great.

DeWanda Wise especially impresses with her work in the film, she's got a great handle on successful comedic timing in her line deliveries that communicates Erin's razor-sharp wit in a crystal-clear manner. In the lead role, Gina Rodriguez reminds us all again why she needs to be a go-to leading lady in cinema going forward, she makes for a great anchor for the entire production. Not only is Rodriguez amusing in the numerous instances where she gets to depict the comedically goofy behavior of Jenny, she also captures her characters heart-ache in a frank manner that doesn't glossy up all the heartbreak she's suffering. All the pain, anger and whirlwind of emotions anyone endures when a romantic relationship comes to an end, Rodriguez is adept at depicting that part of Jenny's break-up process.

If there is a downside to the lead performances, it's they're sometimes required to deliver dialogue that has a tendency to strain too hard to be hip. To be fair, Someone Great is a millennial movie with a capital M and that means writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson wants to have the characters exchange dialogue littered with all sorts of colloquialism associated with that generation. Some instances of this do come off as feeling like an authentic replication of communication between members of this generation (God knows I'm a millennial who uses modern slang to a grating degree) and then other times it feels like the screenplay is inorganically shoehorning in phrases that seem like they should be hip. There's lots of amusing dialogue scattered throughout Someone Great, but that just makes the instances where the characters engage in modern conversations that might as well be punctuated with "How do you do, fellow kids?" stand out all the more.

Luckily, that aspect of the script is overshadowed by far better parts of the screenplay like thoroughly delightful sequences depicting the friendship of the lead characters through creative means like impromptu singing in a bodega. Also sticking in one's mind more after the credits are done rolling is the cinematography by Autumn Eakin, which cleverly visually differentiates the flashback sequences from the rest of the movie by having these scenes set in the past be doused in purple-tinged neon lighting that could have come out of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. It's a bold visual choice that stands as an example of how Someone Great makes plenty of clever creative decisions that make it such a charming (there's that word again!) ode to recovering from love lost and the friends we make along the way.

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