SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW. I Don’t Want To Know You At All!
After a quite successful directorial debut (Rental in 2020), Dave Franco made another project, completely changing the film convention – from horror cinema he moved to the waters of romantic comedies, which are fatal for many. His Somebody I Used to Know debuted a few days ago on the Amazon Prime Video platform, and in the lead role we will of course see Franco’s wife, Alison Brie, with whom the director also co-wrote the screenplay. Do these types of marriage projects have a chance of success? Probably yes, but probably not this time.
Every year around Valentine’s Day, dozens of romantic comedies and melodramas appear in cinemas and on streaming platforms, aimed at putting viewers in the mood of love elation imposed by this holiday. And, like every year, in the deluge of this cruelly sweet mass of movies and series, you can find a lot of imitative crap, trying to monetize Valentine’s potential with the least cost and effort. Is Somebody I Used to Know that kind of production? I probably wouldn’t call it a total failure, but you definitely can’t call the film by the younger of the Franco brothers a successful project. It resembles a character coming back from a party in the morning, who – although he walks unsteadily and often stumbles over his own feet – each time gets up and pushes forward, achieving successive small victories.
Ally (Alison Brie) is a TV journalist who returns to her hometown of Leavenworth after the cancellation of her reality show, only to immediately fall into a love affair with ex-boyfriend Sean (Jay Ellis) and his future wife Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons).
By the way: why is it not said that in stories of this type it is usually the woman who returns from the big world and meets the man of her life again, apparently devoid of ambitions reaching higher than working in her father’s company in the deep American countryside? Isn’t that already a form of discrimination?
In any case, after spending the evening with her ex-lover, Ally decides to renew her intimacy with Sean, but only then finds out that he is engaged to a much younger and very attractive Cassidy, who, moreover, seems to resemble Ally from her teenage years. Now, the failed journalist’s mission is to break up Sean and Cassidy’s months-long relationship, against the otherwise wise advice of their mutual friend Buddy (Danny Pudi). At this point, antipathy towards Ally almost reaches its zenith, and the viewer asks himself: “was I really supposed to cheer for this bitch?!?”. During the screening, however, Franco and Brie try to convince us that not everything is so straightforward.
Wanting is not enough
“Try” is the key word: although Ally rehabilitates herself a bit with a few gestures, the creators fail to erase the negative impression that the main character made with her egocentric decisions. Ally is an absolutely toxic character, convinced of the rightness of her choices against all the numerous signs appearing in heaven and earth. Even when she theoretically fixes her mistakes, she does it only for the sake of herself and her conscience. It’s hard to identify with such a person, especially since that’s probably not what the creators wanted – Ally was probably supposed to be a complicated and lost woman, and she turns out to be just a petty manipulator, ready to break up the relationship of her former partner, just to meet her temporary needs. The only thing that the protagonist of Somebody I Used to Know manages to do is to show that adulthood has completely defeated her.
In addition to the protagonist, the story itself also fails – Dave Franco directs with a heavy hand, and after the presence of several scenes as if taken straight out of another Neighbors sequel, I conclude that Davey himself also has problems with growing up. I’m waiting for the times when a prerequisite for mainstream American comedy will not be the presence of jokes about faeces, puking or genitals – maybe then the creators will focus a bit more on the story and the characters? For now, though, I would advise Dave and Alison to focus on their extra-marital lives – not so much in the romantic sense, but in the strictly professional sense. Joint film projects need more than a feeling between their creators.