The romcom is having a bit of a renaissance. We may never return to the heady zenith of the early-to-mid 2000s, but streaming services are churning out their own takes on meet-cutes and makeover montages regardless.
The folk at Netflix HQ seem to have finally let their current teen movie muse Noah Centineo take a break from asking girls to prom and get back to being a discount Jaden Smith on Twitter. They’ve branched into pastures new; Someone Great is their latest offering.
Gina Rodriguez (of Jane the Virgin fame) is Jenny Young, a music journalist living in New York City; the film centres around her and her two best friends from college, Erin (DeWanda Wise) and Blair (Brittany Snow). Jenny is about to move across the country to San Francisco, putting several states between the trio. They’re all teetering on the edge of 30. Their relationship statuses are in flux. In a nutshell: the three of them are going through it.
Something that sets this film apart from the rest of Netflix’s bountiful romcom harvest is the age of its characters – most of these movies have high school students as their protagonists (albeit usually played by actors with a median age of 34, for some reason).
Related to this, I found it reassuring to see characters who hadn’t achieved their all their goals straight out of college in traditional movie fashion – Jenny is nearly 30 and has just secured her dream job at Rolling Stone magazine. 29 is hardly ancient, I know, but it’s a lot easier to swallow than watching fictional teens have everything handed to them on a plate.
This is a coming of age film, which is something you not might expect from characters in the tail-end of their 20s, but it’s a coming of age story nonetheless. Nora Ephron compared ageing in your twenties to ageing in dog years, and Someone Great does its best to capture the ups and downs of this tumultuous decade.
At this stage, I have to mention the soundtrack, the stuff of any millennial e-girl’s dreams. Mitski? Lizzo? Phoebe Bridgers? Robyn? That breakup montage set to Lorde’s ‘Supercut’? Has Netflix started hacking into Spotify accounts to create user-specific personalised soundtracks in a Black Mirror-esque turn of events? Director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson is a former music journalist, which perhaps explains these on-trend choices.
Someone Great is very conscious of trends. It could be said to play into the millennial stereotype too much – one review on Letterboxd described the characters as speaking “like undercover cops” and the first time we see Jenny’s friend Blair, she’s sipping her morning coffee from a mug emblazoned with the word “feminist” in pink cursive. It does feel a little on the nose at times, but romcoms aren’t known for being subtle.
Regardless, I loved the friendships represented in this film. It’s a romcom, sure, but the real romance is between Jenny, Erin, and Blair. Jenny and her boyfriend Nate’s relationship – and its subsequent decline – is portrayed with tenderness, too. Neither party involved in the breakup is villainised, despite the story being told from Jenny’s point of view, which feels refreshing and grownup in a film of this genre.
Someone Great is funny, cringey, and heartbreaking in equal measure, but, most importantly, it’s fun. Is it objectively good? Not really. Did I love it anyway? Absolutely.
Someone Great is available on Netflix now.