By Anushka Narula
Netflix has been kind to the let’s-cancel-all-plans, sit-at-home-in-PJs-and-Netflix breed. It has given us all the reasons to spend this summer of 2019 with Some(one) Great new stories. You had to have seen a broken pun like that coming. How else would I have given away the fact that I am going to review (read : gush over) the new girls-day-in/night-out Netflix movie – SOMEONE GREAT. Written and Directed by Jennifer Kaytlin Robinson, this movie has a terrific cast of three very charming actors- Gina Rodriguez (Jenny), Brittany Snow (Blair) and DeWanda Wise (Erin) in the lead, supported by the very handsome Lakeith Stanfield (Nate) and Peter Wack (Matt). For the sake of classifying it into a particular genre, one could say that this is a rom-com but not without acknowledging just how quirky and off beat the movie is when compared to most other rom-coms.
Now that we’re through with the factual formalities, let’s dive right into the movie, shall we? This one sure does require you to dive in, and you may or may not stay afloat, depending upon what category you fall into. Allow me to philosophise my choice to list these categories down. When we watch a movie and then review it, we tend to forget that the review is not free of biases. Our preferences and our personalities very understandably mingle with how the movie appeals to us. So it’s best to know what lens you’re going to watch this movie through before you make a decision to watch it, and then further like or dislike it. *Indvidualists wink*
Choose your pick –
- Loud and proud romantics– admittedly believe too much in love and all things Taylor Swift(ly).
- Stiff necked romantics – cynicism serves this kind the best, because that’s where they get their sense of humour from but deep down they youtube wedding videos of celebrities and get “teary eyed” (read : bawl)
- Die hard ‘die hard’ person – “Ew, rom-coms are for girls” (If you identify with this category, you must be an absolute gift of patriarchy, a sweet Alabama of a person. So I wouldn’t mind if you stopped reading this review right here. In fact I’d quite encourage it).
- (Good?) ol’ Marxists – “Love is a bourgeois concept. Everything is. Capitalism has tricked you into wanting love. Ambanis suck.”
Well, you know who you are.
Moving on to the movie. It is like a dollop of honey but with ginger. It treats your cold, but not without making you want to throw up from the pungent taste first. The movie gives you a bitter-spicy reality check but does so sweetly and gently. Another parallel I am inclined to draw is that with the month of June. And I don’t just say this merely because of the theme. Here’s why. For a Mumbaikar like myself, June is when it’s neither all monsoon-y, nor too summery anymore. The days may be cloudy, but the weather’s still warm. And the clouds, they don’t bring a lull to the city, but in fact come with the anticipation of the much romanticised Rains! So when I say that this movie feels like June, I mean that it feels warm and cozy, but it has its greys. It shows you all about love and the long-lasting one indeed, but not just the surrealities of it. You weep with Jenny when she does, and you scream “YOU GO GIRL” when she’s dancing drunk to Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’.
Jenny and Nate, have been together for 9 years; they met in college and have been together since, to this present day when they give in to all the adulting and break-up. I am simplifying things way too much but I promise to add the details and cover the nuances in just a bit. But to begin with, her relationship’s in the past and everything that you see about this handsome and awfully adorable couple is shown to you in flashbacks. Yeah I know, Flashbacks…pfft! So 2010. But hey, stay with me. And let’s go back to what I said before, that there is nothing very cliche about this seemingly cliched genre, story or style. You’re currently with Jenny on her breakup day, while she goes back and forth, juggling between the present and the past, the good times and the bad. In her flashbacks, you don’t just see their adorable moments together ; you also see all the things that are a sure recipe for disaster if not handled tastefully. In all the juggling between past and the present, you are witness to a rather uncomfortable reality. When you spend your 20s, those prime years of “figuring your life out”, and you do that with a partner, everything that you “figure out” is somewhat of a joint effort. Your perspectives, your ideas about what life looks like/ought to look like could lack individuality because in even the most ideal relationships, you lose a bit of yourself and take on a bit of your partner. And that is only human. But this intermingling of selves and personalities loses its charm when they find it hard to let go of their parts any further. When the part you’d given away starts coming back to you, you lose space for the part you’d taken on from the other one in this relationship.
I have perhaps philosophised this enough to make you wanna slam your laptop screens shut. But hey, with that soundtrack and those dialogues, you’re bound to (pseudo-)intellectualise things! When you have a song like ‘Great One’ by Jessie Reyez play right when the two lovers realise that they’re in fact the star-crossed kind ; that Jenny’s decision to go to San Francisco to pursue her passion is just one of the many reasons that’s lead them to this point ; when you hear Jessie Reyez sing “Everything is nothing without you”, how is your heart, unless you are an Alabama of a person, supposed to take that hit! The soundtrack, my friend, is definitely a BIG reason to watch this film. You need all those songs on your playlist right the hell now! The other extremely beautiful thing that you don’t want to miss is its unapologetic and quite in your face diversity- in terms of race, sexuality and gender. While some, the likes of category number 2 perhaps, might be well inclined to think of they were trying too hard which made it less real and impactful, I’d say that an attempt like this, one that unapologetically and unabashedly screams “EQUALITY”, is what America and the rest of the world needed right now. They deserve every KUDOS for the same.
The characters, if not for the highly nuanced actors, could have seemed a tad repetitive, but the actors added their own selves to the character and that gave all the characters, especially the three main girls, a lot of authenticity. The screenplay, although very fresh and vibrant, in some places, for instance Jenny’s messy house, seemed like a little bit much. And I know, I am not supposed to force “realism” everywhere and some parts in the movie should be left to the imagination but I can’t help but think of alternative ways to show a freshly broken up New Yorker’s world. But if you wanna look at it another way, Jenny’s personality is loud and cute, so I am going to let this one pass because maybe that is exactly how Jenny would want everything to look like around her.
If you’re looking to watch a rom-com with your girls or your partner, or your ‘gang’, or even just yourself, but you’re also too much of a realist to go back to watching the kind of films that serve you with all kinds of unrealistic expectations, you know what to pick. If both the summer and the rains are a bit much for you and you’re looking for something with a tinge of both, you know what to pick. If you’re looking for someone who can write a review to go well with the theme and does so subtly and effortlessly, you know what not to pick.