Alison Brie stirs up drama in rom-com Somebody I Used to Know
Loving and losing is a concept with which most adults are very familiar. And it’s a safe bet that most of those people have spent at least some time wondering what might have been with a former partner and, especially in the age of social media, thinking about reconnecting with that person.
The new film Somebody I Used to Knowoffers a fresh take on that idea, centering on Ally (Alison Brie), a reality TV producer who ventures back home to Washington after her show gets canceled. When she gets there, she runs into her ex-boyfriend Sean (Jay Ellis), and after a day/night of fun together, there seems to be a rekindling of that old flame.
That is, until the following day, when an impromptu visit by Ally to Sean’s family home leads to the discovery that Sean is set to marry Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons) that very weekend. When Sean’s mom JoJo (Olga Merediz) asks her to step in as videographer for the wedding, Ally jumps at the chance, if only to sort through her confusion over the state of Sean’s feelings.
Written by Brie and her husband, Dave Franco, and directed by Franco, the film has a similar concept to the 1997 Julia Roberts rom-com My Best Friend’s Wedding, with perhaps a bit more grounded approach. And lest you think that Brie and Franco don’t know that, they make sure to throw in a reference to that film in a tense but illuminating conversation between Ally and Cassidy.
While the film offers plenty of humor – Haley Joel Osment steals the show as Sean’s goofy brother, Jeremy – most of the story is told in a straight-up manner, with the comedy feeling more organic than forced. With Cassidy rightfully suspicious of Ally’s presence/intentions, each person in the triangle is given plenty of opportunity to address the awkward situation, something that doesn’t always happen in these types of movies.
The series of situations that advance the plot – a tubing trip; a concert by Cassidy’s punk rock band, Dirty Blush; the rehearsal dinner – all come off as well-considered and true to life rather than inserted just to create drama and/or comedy. Even moments that threaten the balance, like Brie reuniting with her Community co-star Danny Pudi or Ally’s mom (Julie Hagerty) having an active sex life, work in the context of the film, a testament to Brie and Franco’s writing.
Brie is highly effective in the lead role, eliciting empathy even when her character engages in somewhat questionable activity. The 41-year-old Ellis may finally be getting his due, turning in a strong performance here after his recent stint on Insecure and supporting role in Top Gun: Maverick. And Clemons makes the “other woman” role her own, winding up just as appealing as Brie.
By using comedy as a booster to its story rather than making it the whole basis, Somebody I Used to Know escapes the traps that bring many rom-coms down. With a trio of engaging actors at the front, and great supporting actors, it’s one of the more successful entries for the genre in a long time.
Somebody I Used to Know debuts on Prime Video on February 10.