DRINKING BUDDIES meets THE BREAK UP
WE BROKE UP (2021)
We Broke Up is a romantic tragedy filed as a comedy. It’s wonderfully crafted, offering us a film that’s Drinking Buddies meets The Break Up, minus all the screaming from the latter.
Directed by Jeff Rosenberg, We Broke Up is a triumphant directorial effort from a rather unknown filmmaker. Introduced to our leads with a terrific one on one that perfectly encapsulates the duo's energy when at the highest peak of happiness and watching that crumble to pieces so instantaneously makes for a devastating watch - especially as you try to rationalize what all transpired. Scenes are tightly cut together to make the end of arguments more abrupt and ultimately comical, while on the flip side we have some wonderful moments of silence that help convey what’s going on inside as the ex-couple try to hide that they seperated. The entirety of We Broke Up is engrossing, but most importantly in the way it’s filmed; whether purposeful or not, I took the under saturated color scheme of the film as a way of delivering us out of the real world and into a fairytale gone wrong.
The plot focuses on the discourse of Lori and Doug’s breakup as they decide to pretend to stay together for Lori’s sister's wedding weekend. What I love to see is that as we indulge in the slow unraveling of their relationship and why they truly broke up, we realize that this is a break up where they’re both in the wrong in some way - although you do lean toward one side or the other more often than not. The film is lacking some heavy hitting laughs, but without them the film’s sense of humor is endearing and charming. What makes the film so terrific is how it isolates the incident and only lets it be a minor focus for the rest of the characters, so when we lose the one on one character development for a montage in the form of “Paul Bunyan Day” games, the spark loses some air. However this lackluster sequence is forgiven as a key fight breaks out late in the film, and the scene genuinely made me nervously invested in the outcome of their relationship and truly shocked by the brilliant twist the film lays on us - something that only worked because of the choices in the direction and genuine chemistry between Cash and Harper. Acting more commonly as a dramedy than a rom-com, screenwriters Rosenberg and Laura Jacqmin indulge into more recognizable tropes within the third act, including the use of more abrupt comedy along the path to the “final” dance.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Delivery is everything and this cast knows how to deliver the goods. The comedy is executed so subtly that the sudden release of small jokes to break the tension in the air make for a sharp chuckle. Focusing on our prime central characters exclusively allows us to focus on their body language and conversation. Aya Cash (Lori) is a queen at showing her visible discomfort, even when pretending that everything is alright - her performance isn’t unlike what we’ve seen from her time as Gretchen on You’re the Worst. While their motivations incredibly differ and one is clearly a sociopath, it’s a type of unloving, misunderstood character that Cash plays so well. William Jackson Harper (The Good Place, Midsommar) as Doug brings along a hypnotic contrast between himself and the less cheerful Lori. As mentioned earlier, I’d compare the experience to a lighter version of The Break Up. With some tremendous monologues and arguments spread throughout the film, you can’t help but feel tense every time the two stand even near one another. While I'm floored by the connection between Cash and Harper, the supporting characters, while still good in varying degrees, certainly are a letdown. Lori’s sister,l Bea and her fiance Jayson are a much sillier element of the film that works in doses, leaving some instances where the over the top delivery from Tony Cavalero and Sarah Bolger can come across as too much. Then we come to Erica and Roya, potential new love interests for our ex-couple, but they’re dropped into the story and removed so rapidly that their inclusion and lack of further appearances in the film make them almost shoehorned into the story to trigger jealousy and nothing else; a missed opportunity to detour into more emotions.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Utilizing minor locations at all times, the film understands how to make great use of a miniscule budget. The color palette laid out through the characters’ wardrobe, the cabins, the hotel lobby, and more was shot with purpose. The film is pleasant to look at, but it’s the incredible performances that keep you locked in on their wavering relationship status.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Silence is bliss, and when the film chooses to do so in order to capture the essence of our leads' emotions, the lack of score really makes for a great character study as we can see their full range of emotions start to evacuate. However I’ll be honest, even though composer Nick Sena, composer of Big Time Adolescence, was involved in crafting this score, I wasn’t convinced his involvement would be for the best. However as the film continues and tensions rise, Nick Sena understands how to seize the traction in the room with his score and never allows you a moment to look away out of fear of what might happen if someone were to just exhale.
We Broke Up is a terrifyingly real romance we are witnessing draw to a close after a decade of being “in love.” The film is heartbreaking, but not in a way that will have you bawling; instead, it will leave you knowing that even though you may continue to love someone forever, the passion to push forward in life with them isn’t always voluntarily connected.
Vertical Entertainment will release WE BROKE UP in theaters on Friday, April 16 and the VOD/Digital on April 23