Writer/director Nikole Beckwith’s marvelous and heartwarming comedy “Together Together” (Bleecker Street/Obscured Pictures) has the potential to do for surrogacy what Gillian Robespierre’s “Obvious Child” (from 2014) did for abortion.
Not only is “Together Together” a smart and sensitive movie, but it features the first great performance of 2021, given by trans actress Patti Harrison.
Divided into first, second and third trimester segments, the movie opens with coffee shop server Anna (Harrison in a breakout role) being interviewed by app designer Matt (Ed Helms). Single Matt is the designer of the extremely popular Loner dating app, even though he doesn’t have much luck in the romance department. He wants to start a family and is looking for a surrogate. While their initial meeting can best be described as awkward and uncomfortable, Anna gets the gig.
Right from the start, Anna and Matt’s social awkwardness works well as the glue that holds them and the story together. Their interactions with others, including Matt’s divorced parents Adele (Nora Dunn) and Marty (Fred Melamed), Anna’s queer co-worker Jules (Julio Torres), ultrasound tech Jean (Sufe Bradshaw), therapist Madeline (Tig Notaro), obstetrician Dr. Andrews (Rosalind Chao) and Shayleen (Anna Konkle), the woman who runs the “birth center for learning and feeling,” come across as authentic and unforced.
Beckwith’s script effortlessly captures the subtleties of dialogue across generations. This can be heard clearly in the way that Anna and Matt relate to each other. In the way that contemporaries Anna and Jules communicate with others, as well as each other. How Matt and Anna’s parents express themselves to their adult children. This also carries over to the way that Jean and Madeline deal with Anna and Matt. It’s a talent that Beckwith has in abundance and it makes for a meaningful experience.
Beckwith has also peppered “Together Together” with an array of queer actors (including Notaro and Torres) and characters (a lesbian couple in the birthing class, a gay male couple in Matt’s group therapy), something that may stand out to viewers in the community. Helms holds his own in something of a thankless role, playing the comedic, and when necessary dramatic, with equal skill. However, it is Harrison’s nuanced and gracious performance that earns the highest praise. She makes Anna unforgettable and ought to be remembered when critics are assembling their best of 2021 lists, as well as at awards time.
Screen Savor is a weekly column from SFGN’s film critic Gregg Shapiro. Shapiro is an entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in regional LGBT and mainstream media outlets. Shapiro is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State and More Poems About Buildings and Food. Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.