Released: 19th April
Seen: 13th May
Is it just me or does Netflix have a weird habit of hiring actors from the CW network and giving them a cheesy romcom to play around with? We had that very recently with The Last Summer and The Perfect Date, two movies that were certainly watchable but nothing really worth writing home about (but totally worth writing a thousand words on the internet about because that is apparently my life now) and both of them have already been basically forgotten. There’s even another one coming out later on this month called Always Be My Maybe and heck, maybe that one’ll end up being the one that is just a little bit better than “Ah, it’s pretty good” because we’re still at “Ah, it’s pretty good” levels right now with another film in this genre.
Someone Great follows Jenny Young (Gina Rodriquez), a young music critic who just got a job at Rolling Stone but that would mean that her and her boyfriend Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) would have to try and do long distance and since that never works out, according to movie tropes anyway, they break up and Jenny stumbles into a deep depression that her friends Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow) try to pull her out of by giving her a grand day out that will include all of them going to a concert that night. Throughout the day not only will Jenny try to move on from her relationship, but Blair and Erin will also have to confront the realities of how their own relationships have changed.
Like literally every rom-com, the plot is almost completely irrelevant. Let’s be honest, a romcom plot is like a plot in a porno. It’s nice that they try to have one but it’s not why anyone is here. We’re here for the interesting details, the tone that they set, the jokes they tell and the main performances. The plots are usually pretty much the same thing every single time… so it’s kind of interesting that this time the ‘rom’ part of the ‘rom-com’ genre is relegated to flashbacks and we actually spend the entire movie dealing with the aftermath of a relationship ending. It’s not even about getting the main couple back together or about finding the main character a new boyfriend, but a more interesting story about coming to terms with the end of a long relationship and not being perfectly fine at the end, but at least accepting that things are over. That’s a strong and interesting story foundation to work with.
With a good foundation laid the film leans heavily on the main three performers which is a good choice because those three women are so damn funny and have such instant chemistry that they could be reading the phone book and I’d be enthralled. The comedy here works really well, everyone has such great timing and the scenes have such a natural flow to them that it’s easy to just go along with them on this journey for a good happy laugh that will continue for the 92-minute runtime. Sure, the lines that made you laugh might not stick around, I believe the only real joke I can remember off the top of my head is “That was not GA (general admission) intercourse”, a joke that works when said in context by Brittany Snow but does not work when I type it out like this. In fact I can’t even think of any comedically quotable lines, this movie doesn’t have its “I’ll have what she’s having” line that we’ll all be quoting in five years (Hell, I finished watching this movie roughly seven minutes before I began typing this very review and I’ve got one line in my head, and I had to go look it up to make sure I had the wording right) but a line doesn’t need to be quotable for it to be funny, but it does go to one of the problems I had with this movie.
While the film is funny and the performances are really good, I don’t know if it’s going to be all that memorable. There’s a disposable quality to it that makes it very easy for it to slip out of memory. The mild upside to this is that it’ll be easier to justify rewatching it because it’ll still feel fresh, but I really wanted this one to be more memorable because it has so many good things. It has the best leading actors I’ve seen in one of these kinds of movies and it has a lot of charm, it also has a great visual style with some clever use of lighting and shots. One of my favourite shots in pretty much any movie was in the documentary Casting JonBenet where they did a slow tracking shot and you saw 20 versions of JonBenet’s parent’s reacting to what happened and it was a really great scene. This movie has a similar show where there’s a slow pan over a series of apartment buildings and with each new building we get a moment of the relationship, it’s really cool and visually interesting. There are some nifty lighting choices, use of bold purple lighting, unnatural colouring that gives everything a dreamlike feeling, it’s all really nice. I really like so much about this film but I know that by the time this day ends, I won’t remember it.
Someone Great has a lot going for it. A fun diverse cast, great acting and visual flair that is rarely seen in this genre. It just lacks a certain pop that keeps it lingering in the head once the stream has stopped. It’s an easy one to watch and enjoy, it’s one I’m sure that I’ll go back to watch again because there was a genuine warmth to it that I would like to feel again, but it’s not going to be an all-time favourite. Still really good though.