I remain confused by anyone would want to make a pandemic/quarantine film. The margin for error is so large, the chance at success is so small, and picking at the COVID-19 wound is an iffy proposition at best. Who wants to relive lockdown, especially so soon? Well, Together certainly hoped to be the rare movie to thread this needle. Unfortunately, despite an A-list filmmaker and a big talent in front of the camera, it just comes off as a misguided choice. Well-acted and claustrophobically shot, the flick is still a big misfire, due to its lack of an effective point. There’s just no good reason to have made this, plain and simple.
Together gets better as it goes on, but it’s largely a grueling experience. Initially, both protagonists are so off-putting, not only do you not want them to be together, you don’t want to be watching them. Some of that is intentional, but in doing so, it puts the film behind the eight-ball in a way that it never recovers from. The powerful moments are indeed powerful, but they’re in service of a lesser project, overall.
The film follows He (James McAvoy) and She (Sharon Horgan) during the COVID-19 lockdown in London. They have a son, but largely are content to bicker, essentially stating that without the pandemic, they’d be divorcing. Of course, now they’re stuck together. Initially, it’s mostly about what drives them apart. As the time passes, however, that evolves. Like so many others, they’re going to go through a range of emotions, not simply due to lockdown, but in seeing the death, indifference, and ineptitude that led to it all.
In the back half, she becomes enraged at the poor response to the pandemic, which has cost her nursing home bound mother her life. The utter anger and grief she feels, even if it’s initially an avenue for a potential bonding between the two, is truly moving. Through that, they begin to not just re-evaluate each other, but their relationship.
Both Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy are good here, though their characters are largely off-putting. Horgan is redeemed more than McAvoy, but neither portray people you want to spend 90 minutes with. McAvoy has the biggest turn in his character, but he’s also starting out as such a largely detestable person, it isn’t hard to move him towards humanity. Horgan really comes into her own during an emotional monologue about her mother. Truly, she’s saying what we’ve all felt at one point or another during the past year and change. Samuel Logan has a small role as their son, but he’s largely inconsequential to the proceedings.
Director Stephen Daldry has tackled tough material in the past, most notably with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. That melodrama proved divisive, but Oscar sure paid attention. Here, that won’t be the case. Together is arguably his most misguided project, in that Daldry doesn’t do much with Dennis Kelly‘s script. He shoots it tight, but the fourth wall breaking and the stasis isn’t especially cinematic (or interesting). Kelly has one excellent monologue, befitting a better movie, but it’s not nearly enough to save this flick.
Together has no good reason to exist. That’s the honest truth. Sure, it might have been cathartic and even therapeutic for the actors, director, and writer, but for the audience? Not even close. Despite the occasional shining moment, this is something I never want to experience again. I went in hoping for better, but alas, this is what I was left with in the end.