“A husband and wife are forced to re-evaluate themselves and their relationship through the reality of the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Directors: Stephen Daldy, Justin Martin
Writer: Dennis Kelly
Staring: James McAvoy, Sharon Horgan, Samuel Logan
Rated: R
Release Date: August 27, 2021

Together (2021) is a COVID movie. No denying that. It is 100% a COVID movie and that is inescapable.

The trouble is that Together is a British version of Malcolm & Marie (2021), and it simply is not as good. When the cast of crew of Together sat down and watched Sam Levinson’s modern take on Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf (1966), they had to be fuming smoke out of their ears.

So if you have seen its predecessors and inspirations, then you know what Together is about. He (James McAvoy) and She (Sharon Horgan) are entering quarantine with a rocky relationship. They are not married, but they have a young child, and that is the only thing keeping them from killing each other. Each character gets a chance to perform a Shakespearean soliloquy and stare directly into the camera into the audience souls. As time passes the movie marks its chapters with specific dates and UK deaths from COVID, providing social context for the various stages in evolving relationship between He and She. The pair become happy and find physical connection, then delve into sadness with family members passing, and come the end of Together, it is a mystery as to whether or not He and She can manage one day apart or with each other.

Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy

Together has puts a lot of pressure on James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan to deliver. They need to be in every single scene, and the takes are long and dialogue is quick. A fun fact from IMDB trivia, there are only 204 cuts in this movie, when the average movie has more than 1,000. Better learn your lines! Both McAvoy and Horgan perform amicably, but there is just a piece of me that thinks that Together is missing…something.

What is it? This is something I have been struggling with. Objectively there is nothing wrong with Together. It exists and I did not have a bad time watching it.but when I think back on the movie, all I can picture are the small moments I liked rather than the whole picture. I remember Her speech about her mother dying and how she had to say goodbye to her on FaceTime. That was the best part of the movie, hands down. McAvoy is a piece of wallpaper during that scene, frozen as to whether or not to hug is grieving lover.

So why am I struggling to like Together? Maybe it is because I am officially tired of COVID set movies, or maybe it is because the Shakespearean approach that throws me for a loop. I can’t help but compare Together to other movies similar to its genre, and that isn’t fair. I know it isn’t, but I can not look away from its own reflections in the mirror. Malcolm & Marie was also extremely high drama, but the screaming matches were tailored and shaped with vivid visuals as well. Perhaps it is just how staged and blocked out Together comes out. It is very structured, and watching the story I could not avoid the feeling like the characters were hitting their gaff tape marks on the floor. Perhaps it needed to be that way with only 10 days to shoot.

I am having a crisis of faith writing this reaction. I again can not help but think that I should have enjoyed Together more. It is a character driven movie with an emphasis on its screenplay, which is usually a bread-and-butter experience for myself. WHY DIDN’T I LIKE YOU MORE? WHY AREN’T WE TOGETHER IN THIS.

Perhaps I am just in a James McAvoy exploratory phase. Not too long ago I watched My Son (2021), which is another exploratory movie that puts McAvoy at its center. It is a measure of extremes for McAvoy. In the year 2021 he did My Son where he didn’t know any of his script and he had to act off the cuff the entire time, and then he also had Together where you gotta know your lines and you have to hit your marks.

As you can gather from my ramblings, I am having a hard time getting my head around Together. I am not entirely sure what to make of a movie that addresses real things in a inventive and bold way. This reaction of mine is confusing because I wouldn’t tell someone not to watch Together if they said they were going to, but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to interrupt it.

Perhaps it is that I am uncomfortable arguing about politics or money, which are two main areas of topics tackled in the movie. I can argue about art, self-loathing, and intangible things with the best of them, but when you are asking me to compare political believes and try and be combative about it…well I am just not going to like that. Those are areas that you can not convince someone in one fell swoop that your viewpoint is at least valid. In Together both He and She evolve with it a little in their own ways, but they are still butting heads come the end. I would rather listen to arguments on story inspiration, old muses, and or egotistical self-referential decisions. Hell, I would rather argue about how you define love and see love than argue about whether or not you think the debt ceiling should go up or not. And I am a political science minor.

Alright, I am done. Together has taken up too much of my time. Perhaps that means I should raise my grade because I can’t stop thinking about it…but I think I am more thinking about my own thinking of it.

STANKO RATING: C- (2.5/5 Stars)

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