Remember when the world was suddenly put on hold? Well, it was a little over a year ago, so the scars are probably still fresh. You most probably rushed to your local supermarket to hoard rations because nobody knew the true severity of the pandemic and when the lockdown would end. Of course, everyone hoped it would end within 2-3 weeks, but that wasn’t the case, was it? Many folks found themselves stuck indoors with their family and loved ones, with the isolation putting a strain on many relationships. That is the premise of Together, a 2021 COVID feature starring James McAvoy & Sharon Horgan as a couple dealing with their rocky relationship while stuck indoors during the lockdown.
Let’s see if this film can effectively give you PTSD flashbacks to your time in the lockdown.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
‘Together’ Plot Summary – Remember the First Lockdown?
‘HE’ & ‘SHE’ are a couple with a son ‘Artie’ hoarding rations as a news reporter informs us of the recently announced national lockdown in the UK. As they enter their homes and begin unpacking, they break the fourth wall by telling us how much they hate each other (haha, classic bickering couple). HE is self-employed while SHE is a charity worker, so naturally, their arguments also cross the professional side.
Throughout the film, the couple disagrees – and argues – about pretty much everything – family, politics, socio-economic disparity, human rights, you name it. Their arguments show two starkly different viewpoints and build their characters to be distinct individuals with a history, personality, and depth. While they argue, they also offer good chemistry; they were in love at one point, and there is a real relationship here, realized beautifully by the two actors.
So what happens to this family? Watch the movie to find out!
Together’ Review – Effective, or Gimmicky?
Together is a chapter in the life of this dysfunctional couple. It starts from the announcement of the first lockdown and ends around a year later. Within these 90 minutes, you get to experience everything that the couple – and to an extent, the world –experienced in that one year from March 2020 – March 2021.
If you’ve seen the Before Trilogy, you know what an organic relationship on-screen looks like. A couple with great chemistry in a perfectly romantic setting, that’s what Before Sunrise was; Before Sunset & Before Midnight pushed those boundaries with age and time, sticking to romance while also letting the reality of the world seep into these characters’ existence. Now imagine Before Midnight, except instead of a romantic setting in Greece, our characters are stuck at home in a lockdown, and that’s what Together feels like.
Together is a mumblecore film, with the writing and dialogues delivered so powerfully that you will find yourself immediately lost in their world. And mind you, it isn’t a beautiful world. Their home is colorful but very messy. The characters constantly break the fourth wall, not allowing the audience even a moment of respite, almost pulling you into their fights and bleak lives. The unsettling setting that Together presents us not only reminds you of the first lockdown but also manages to do so through characters who feel very much accurate.
One notable aspect which I found very effective is the constant reminders of the outside world through simple titles. You get the dates, you get news updates, and you get the coronavirus death toll, which in my opinion, was a great way to keep the film grounded in reality and remind you that while this couple/family is having a meltdown, the world outside is facing much worse.
British comedies, unlike their American counterparts, are usually packed with a healthy dose of skepticism. With that in mind, Together includes many comedic elements in a typical British black comedy, packaged in the bleak setting of the first lockdown with characters who are miserable and unlikeable to a great extent. The coming together of these unbearable characters in a claustrophobic setting is what makes this film an unsettling yet engaging watch.
Of course, the fourth wall breaking can be a little too much at times, but it doesn’t seem like a gimmick so much as an overused device. However, since it adds to the discomfort of watching this film, I think it was a good decision.
Together is a good film, innovative in its approach at showing us the lockdown situation through the eyes of a bickering couple stuck in a rocky relationship. With its framing and use of long takes, the cinematography certainly gives this film a unique identity and authenticity, which only shines with the actors’ performances.
The fourth wall breaking can be a little strange at times, and the arguments can seem absurd to the point of unbearable, but overall it’s the perfect British drama-comedy given the setting and background. Be warned: it gets very real at times.
I’m sure this film would be remembered years down the line and would probably hit harder once the memory of the first lockdown begins to fade slightly. Definitely give this one a watch.
Together is a 2021 Drama Comedy film directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin. It stars James McAvoy & Sharon Horgan in the lead roles.