TOGETHER – Review by Martha K Baker

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Trust Stephen Daldry to direct an efficient and profound film set in the first year of the pandemic. Daldry directed “The Reader” and “The Hours” and “Billy Elliott” and 30 episodes of “The Crown.” He is trust-worthy to take Dennis Kelly’s script and turn it into a mesmerizing movie.

Daldry directed The Reader and The Hours and Billy Elliott and 30 episodes of The Crown.. He is trust-worthy to take Dennis Kelly’s script and turn it into a mesmerizing movie.

The film has only three characters: He, She, and their weird son Artie. The adults break the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience; the child is a mere presence, eaves-dropping on the steps. The film opens as the woman hauls goods in from the market and announces the lockdown in March 2020. The date appears on the screen, followed by a datum on the number of UK citizens who have died of Covid19 to that point. The dates and the data continue throughout the year’s setting of Together.

The title refers to how terribly together this unmarried couple is in lockdown. At the beginning, they argue like Frances Langford and Don Ameche in The Bickersons, only with the modern additions of cruelty and vulgarity. He says to her, “I hate your face.” “Only my face?” she responds. “Just your face,” he repeats. They are not, poignantly, always yelling at each other.

The months pass. So does her mum. At first, She accepts the death, but then, nearly a year later, She delivers a monologue denying her mother’s death by Covid: “She was killed by stupidity.”

Sharon Horgan plays the woman, with such range, complemented word for word, moué by moué and eyebrow lift by James McAvoy as He. Watch his hair grow from short to a manbun. Watch his face when he long to hug his grieving, self-isolating partner, but cannot, simply cannot. By turns, they are vicious, sexy, resigned, and confused. Samuel Logan plays Artie, especially sad when he adds his boy soprano in a Zoom choir of Rossetti’s In the Bleak Midwinter.

Daldry manipulates his cameras to vary the single set required by a lockdown. He wrings from the actors a variety of uses of Kelly’s script — now sexy banter, now rapid-fire fusillades of anger, now woebegone exhaustion.

Together runs barely 90 minutes but fills that time with a very real couple’s exploratory year in lockdown.

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Martha K. Baker (Archived Contributor)

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.