Starring Ed Helms, Patti Harrison, Tig Notaro
Directed by Nikole Beckwith
Rating: ** ½
Far less aggressive in tone than the other new film on surrogate motherhood Milkwater, this one sails by on the strength of its sweetness of tone. Luckily it is not sickly sweet but acerbic sweet, as middleaged 45-year old Matt(Ed Helms) decides to hire 20-something Anna (Patti Harrison) to be the mother of his child.
There is no aura of self-projected fanfare in the mission.Unlike Milkwater where the couple in the contract were constantly tense Ed and Anna seem surprisingly comfortable with one another. And the most cherishable component in their togetherness is their respect for one another.
At some point as the first semester of pregnancy merges into the second, Matt begins to act uncharacteristically possessive.There is one particularly distasteful sequence where Matt sees a man coming out of Anna’s residence and asks if they slept together. “I don’t like the idea of a stranger’s penis near my baby’s head,” he snarls.
This is not the Matt we know.It’s just the writer trying to push a cleverly cheesy line into the proceedings. This is not the film we are made to believe Together Together to be. This is about two people thrown together for an unconventional project, getting to like each other.When the plot stays true to its mood it is a pleasant watch. When the protagonists begin to lose their selfcontrol it all begins to hurl into an implausible space.
There is a family get-together , Matt’s family ,to celebrate the impending arrival of the baby in the family. Anna’s fish-out-of-water act in the sequence just seems too predictable to make us feel for her isolation. The ending, though, is less predictable with writer-director Nikole Beckwith leaving the future course of Matt and Anna’s relationship open to our interpretation.
I don’t see them coming together to raise the baby.Anna seems too fond of empty spaces to cradle the clutter of motherhood.The two leads provide us with ample reason to like the film. They are actors who know how to create a sense of empathy in the silences between them. Julio Torres’ as Anna’s deadpan gay pal Jules is likable. Jules’ friction with Matt is something worth looking into. Does Jules resent the violation of his friendship with Anna or does he baulk at the thought of a heterosexual opting for surrogacy?
The answers , my friend, are blowin’ in the windpipe.