Someone Great, Netflix’s latest original rom-com boasts of a stellar cast with the likes of Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodrigez, Atlanta’s Lakeith Stanfeild, DeWanda Wise from She’s Gotta Have it and Britney Snow that we know and love from Pitch Perfect. From this lineup, I didn’t know what to expect from the film, a star-studded dud perhaps? Rom-coms have not fared well in the socially conscious world we live in today, as a die-hard lover of romantic comedies I know I have to set aside all my beliefs to enjoy the likes of Bridget Jones Diary and Pretty Woman. Which was why Someone Great was such a relief! A well-written romantic comedy for the emotionally drained, sexually liberated 20-somethings of today. This movie is far from Netflix’s generic rom-com and manages to sidestep most of the trappings of what we expect from a romantic film. Challenging our notions of what a relationship looks like, a wake-up call for all of us who are struggling with our identity within our relationships, our friendships and our career’s. The world around us champions a new dawn of personal relationships and it is refreshing to see this translated into film. Someone Great is a how-to for the lovers of today, a tutorial on how we can make relationships just a little bit easier on ourselves and those we love.
In the beautiful neon-y haze of New York City, we are introduced to Jenny and Nate, a cool, fun, young couple in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. On their way back from Neon Classic - a music festival Jenny lovingly carries Nate into a bar where she meets her best friends Erin and Blair - two equally beautiful and confident characters (props to Netflix for writing fully fleshed out secondary characters). There in the warm embrace of a cozy bar, among friends, surrounded by a feverish love for life a snapshot is taken of Jenny and Nate; evidence of their new and budding romance. This is followed by a montage of the next 9 years of their relationship, a chronicle of a modern love story mapped out through iMessages, Instagram posts, Tweets, and anniversary playlists. At the end of which, Nate and Jenny break-up.
This is the first indication that this movie isn’t your typical rom-com, we don’t see their relationship grow in real time, we don’t fall in love with their love. Instead, we see the progression in a fleeting montage. As unexpected as it is Someone Great isn’t about finding love or keeping it; it's about learning to grow and build yourself throughout it all. Amidst the memories and the messages of “I love you” followed by the couple’s customary response - “always" Jenny and Nate grow into their current 29-year-old selves. They graduate and carve out their path in life through their relationships and careers, in particular, Jenny's promotion to a position in a new city. “I can’t believe we broke up” she texts Nate followed by an “I love you”, to which he types out a message, 3 hopeful dots appearing on her screen followed by silence.
The rest of the film follows the three best friends as they struggle drunk, high and fabulously across New York City to find tickets to Neon Classic - the final concert before Jenny moves away from the city that has been her home. Along the way, Jenny is confronted by flashbacks of her time with Nate - each scene beautifully lit with dreamy neon lights. Neon Classic not only represents the music festival that brought the pair together but is symbolic of their relationship - a bright, beautiful light in an otherwise dark uncertain period of their lives. While most romance film gloss over the heartbreak period Someone Great forces us to live through the good times with Jenny, the first I love you, the first night, the joy of intimacy and connection with another human – knowing that this period is now over. As Jenny manically tries to make it through the first day of her break-up she is forced to face the memories of lost love - triggered by music, places, words, and actions. We get to know Nate through her experiences with him. The audience never engages with Nate outside of the memories that Jenny has of him, this is significant because after a breakup we lose access to the person we were supposed to have an all-access pass to, we are left with only with our unreliable memories, and terrifyingly raw emotions.
The story also explores Jenny’s relationship with her friends and how the looming threat of adulthood is taking a toll on each of them. While many films give us one-dimensional secondary characters that only function to push the protagonist's storyline Someone Great flips the script. Introducing us to Erin and Blair outside of Jenny's turmoil, we see another set of relationships. One settling into a new relationship and the other happily breaking up and having a sexy fling. Gina, DeWanda and, Britney bring these otherwise stale characters to life, with the right mix of Instagram-ready outfits and Twitter-worthy banter painting a fresh portrait of what a female support system really looks like. A group of friends, devoid of communication problems who are willing and able to have unpleasant conversations when needed.
I consider this film a required watch for anyone over the age of 20. Someone Great manages to execute what many films fail at – speak our truth with a cast of sexy actors and a fantastic script. This film is speaking for us all who have fucked, loved and lost, for us who cuddled a bottle of vodka, cried at the club, in a car, and in the toilet. For all of us who felt like we would never be whole again - to tell us that our pain is human, our emotions are beautiful and we are magic.