When Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) and Nate (LaKeith Stanfield)- her long-term boyfriend of nine years- break up so Jenny can move to pursue her career in music journalism, Jenny leans on her two best friends for one last epic night in the city. With an immaculate soundtrack that puts any audience member through the range of emotions that heartbreak bestows and a young and diverse cast to support heartbroken Jenny, this modern rom-com is close to perfect for me. I will admit, my favorite genre of film is “movies that take place in New York City”, so I could be biased. While I recognize the cliches that this movie depends on, there is something about the ways writer and director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson recognizes modern feminism through this heartbreak story that makes it special. Female friendship, big life changes, and one day after a heart-wrenching breakup are the key ingredients that make Someone Great a great film.
Let us talk about the soundtrack first. With a complete range of classics and hits from the year that this film was released, it feels quite perfectly curated. The opening montage that brings us through the good and bad of Jenny’s relationship with Nate is backed by Lorde’s “Supercut” which appears to be a fun upbeat pop song but really cuts deep with lyrics like “In my head, I play the Supercut of us, all the love we had and lost”. In today’s reality, any modern lover is also a skilled playlist-creator so it makes sense for this soundtrack to be so stunning. When we hear the first few beats to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”, what do we young feminists feel? We feel like the THAT BI*CH! And Lizzo was right, Jenny is 100% “that bitch” and she turns to music to hype her up in the early stages of her breakup. Jenny dances alone in her undies to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” with a bottle of bourbon with bendy straws in it until her best friend Erin (DeWanda Wise) comes to join her. The song changes to “Mansard Roof” by Vampire weekend and sends Jenny into a flashback of the night she met Nate. It is a heartbreakingly real moment for anyone who has ever related a song to someone they lost. The music continues to describe moments that happen throughout the film as they happen. Altogether, the way that music is intertwined into the plot of Someone Great is impressive and quite significant throughout the film.
The female friendship dynamic throughout Someone Great is brought to life by Jenny’s two best friends from college, Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise). While each of them is having relationship issues of their own, they drop everything to be by Jenny’s side and spend the day preparing for a night at the music festival “Neon Classic”. They spend the day trying to find tickets to the festival and getting themselves into mini-adventures left and right. These adventures included a cameo from Ru Paul from whom they buy drugs for the festival. In flashbacks with Nate and Jenny, we hear words like “forever” and learn that Nate’s lack of direction and Jenny’s flourishing ambition caused tension in the early stages of their love story. When Blair and Erin show up to fully support Jenny after the breakup, it's obvious that these friendships are what really are “forever.” Nate was just a chapter in Jenny’s story but these girls are in it for the long haul with her and they make it clear through their actions in the film. Female friendship comedy has never looked so cute and stylish with excellent performances from Brittany Snow and DeWanda Wise to support the excellent Gina Rodriguez.
The relationship between Jenny and Nate that we see through flashbacks, while we know it doesn’t work out from the beginning, is extremely passionate, wholehearted, and real. LaKeith Stanfield as Nate gave us complete “simp” energy while also seeming cool and loving. The dynamic and chemistry between actors Stanfield and Rodriguez felt too real to the point where I was completely heartbroken for Jenny regardless of understanding why their relationship had to end. There is a scene near the end of the film where Jenny scratches out a letter to Nate in her journal on the NYC Subway. She asks him for one more kiss, one more breakfast, one more lie down in bed, and maybe if they can just add up all of the one mores, they could have a whole life together. She writes “But that’s not real, is it?” which shattered my heart. Acceptance.
Why fall in love if there is such a risk of hurt? Jenny writes “I guess sometimes things don’t break, they shatter, but when you let the light in, shattered glass will glitter.” Sometimes the broken is still beautiful and that gives me, a single and hopeless romantic, some hope.
Someone Great creates a space with such diverse characters, relationships, and music that completely reflects real life in NYC. I see this film as an ode to youth in New York that has been touched on before, but never like this. This film prioritizes independence and female friendship while not forgetting the ways that broken pieces of past relationships can cut like a knife after the end of a long-term relationship. By the end of this film, you will understand why relationships end and also completely question why they are worth it, to begin with. The “one epic night” cliche could be seen as overplayed or unrealistic, but Someone Great feels bigger than it. I am a sucker for a cheesy rom-com but the messages that Someone Great puts out have stuck with me since I first saw the film almost two years ago. I will keep going back to this movie to remind me of the important things in life; friendship, ambition, and Lizzo.
Movie Review by Allie Posner