Someone Great puts a new spin on the rom-com genre with an entertaining romp through NYC as three friends reach turning points in their love lives.
Last year, Netflix found a great deal of success with their romantic comedy fare, and the streaming service responded to that success by upping the output of their original rom-coms. The latest to hit the streaming service, Someone Great, is a refreshing breath of air in the romantic comedy genre, focusing on three friends at a time of major upheaval in their lives. At the center is music journalist Jenny (Gina Rodriguez), who is broken up with by her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (Lakeith Stanfield), just before moving to San Francisco for a new job. She’s comforted by her friends Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow) throughout one particular day and night in New York City, but Erin and Blair are dealing with their own relationship dramas. Someone Great was written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Sweet/Vicious), and is her directorial debut. Someone Great puts a new spin on the rom-com genre with an entertaining romp through NYC as three friends reach turning points in their love lives.
Someone Great largely focuses on the story of Jenny and her grief in the wake of her breakup with Nate. Through flashbacks, the movie explores various stages of their relationship, from the night they met through to the breakup. In present day, Jenny is reeling from the end of their nine-year relationship and trying to distract herself by spending time with her friends in one last hurrah before she moves across country. Instead of focusing on the start of a relationship, though, Someone Great goes a different rom-com route by detailing the end of a long-term relationship and depicting a woman trying – and sometimes failing – to move forward. The end of a relationship can be much messier than the start of one, and Someone Great portrays that facet of love and romantic relationships in an incredibly honest, realistic way.
But while Jenny is perhaps the main protagonist of Someone Great, Erin and Blair are also faced with their own important decisions with regard to their love lives. Erin has been casually dating Leah (Rebecca Naomi Jones) for months and must decide whether to commit or continue flaking out on someone she has real feelings for. Meanwhile, Blair is in an unfulfilling long-term relationship when her eye strays to a guy Jenny had a crush on in college, Matt (Peter Vack), who comes back into their lives. In these stories, which have almost as much focus in the movie as Jenny’s, Someone Great plays out two typical rom-com storylines – the romantic interest afraid to commit and the protagonist looking for someone more fulfilling. These arcs work to balance Jenny’s breakup with other tales of romantic love and depict different phases of romantic relationships, in similarly honest and realistic fashion, keeping Someone Great well within the rom-com genre.
But while Someone Great delivers the romantic storylines viewers would expect from a romantic comedy, the true strength of the movie is the friendship – platonic love – of the three main characters. And that’s undoubtedly thanks to the performances of Rodriguez, Wise and Snow, who portray these three friends’ relationship as complicated, but ultimately loving. Someone Great depicts a variety of love – self-love, platonic love, romantic love – in a way that feels much more true to life and revolutionary because of it, especially in a genre like romantic comedies that tend to elevate romantic love above all else. It helps to set Someone Great apart from other rom-coms, and the film ultimately delivers a much more honest picture of the lives of these modern women. A great deal of that is due to the performances of the three leads, but it also comes down to the film’s script.
Prior to Someone Great, Robinson’s main credit was the short-lived MTV drama Sweet/Vicious about a pair of girls who become vigilantes on their college campus taking down those who get away with abusive behavior. Like the TV show before it, Robinson’s Someone Great script features plenty of snappy dialogue and focuses on the bond of the film’s female characters, with their other relationships often taking a backseat to the core friendship. Robinson’s writing and directing on Someone Great elevates the film. And considering the well known hands-off approach Netflix takes to its originals, the quality of Someone Great is a testament to Robinson’s talent, as she once again showcases a unique and wholly necessary voice in Hollywood at the moment. Someone Great is further proof that we need more and different voices in a storied genre like that of rom-coms in order to keep it fresh and modern.
Ultimately, Someone Great is a wonderful addition to the romantic comedy genre, putting a new spin on the classic tropes and taking a look at a side to romantic relationships very rarely explored within films of this type. It’s a fun and enjoyable watch for rom-com fans, and/or those looking for strong female-fronted and female-created cinema. With the low barrier of entry that comes along with all Netflix originals, Someone Great has the potential for major success on the streaming platform. In the rom-com revival that we’ve seen over the last year or so – with Netflix as a major contributor – Someone Great fits well into the wave of new films that elevate the genre beyond (most of) the tired tropes of decades past, while still providing an entertaining romantic comedy experience.
Someone Great is now available for streaming through Netflix. It is 92 minutes long and is rated R for drug content, drinking, sexual material and language throughout.
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