Director: Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Cast: Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow, DeWanda Wise
Watch Someone Great online in the UK: Netflix UK
Whenever a film includes an adjective like ‘great’ in the title, it’s nigh-on impossible for a film critic to resist incorporating it into a pun when writing their review. So. Here goes. Someone Great isn’t great, but it’s still pretty good.
Netflix’s comedy is certainly fine, at the very least. The problem it has, which it shares with other recent releases Little and What Men Want, is that it has an excellent premise but doesn’t nail the execution. All three films mix drama with a high concept – in this case, a love story starting at the break-up – but it, like the other two films, runs out of steam within the first 30 minutes. Unlike the other two films, which both clock in at two hours, Someone Great is a preferable 92 minutes – it’s just a shame it feels much longer.
It’s an even greater shame when you consider how likeable the central cast is. Gina Rodriguez, Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise are a truly formidable trio, who feel like a real friendship group. They also, perhaps just as importantly, feel like real people who could easily be our friends. They’re funny, charming and immensely likeable. The unfortunate thing is we don’t get to see them do all that much.
The film opens with Jenny (Rodriguez) having been dumped by Nate (LaKeith Stanfield), her boyfriend of nine years. The catalyst for their break-up was her moving from New York to San Francisco for her dream job, but things hadn’t been good for a while beforehand. A night out with her two best friends is the perfect remedy; it’s also a chance for her friends to hide away from their respective problems. Blair (Snow) might just hate her own boyfriend and Erin (Wise) can’t quite accept that she might be in a relationship with someone she really likes.
What follows is a day-and-night-in-the-life-of romantic comedy/drama, but sort of in reverse. We start at Jenny and Nate’s break-up, then go to the present day, then to how they first met, before returning to present day. That gets interspersed with flashbacks from Jenny and Nate’s shared history, both the good and the bad. It’s these moments that add to the emotional depth of the film and increase our empathy with the characters; most of us have experienced some sort of heartbreak or the end of a relationship, be it friendship or romantic. Sometimes, the hardest thing is the familiar, those things that were once shared, discovered and explored together. Like ghosts, these memories haunt spaces that once brought joy, sadness or anger. They stand out in the film, flickers of viscerality in what is otherwise a generic – albeit rather sweet – drama.
Someone Great is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.