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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, April 17, 2024

'Somebody I Used to Know' in the words of Dave Franco and Alison Brie

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Pictured is Alison Brie and Kiersey Clemons, stars of "Somebody I Used to Know" (2023)

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there is no shortage of rom-coms to binge watch. One is newly released “Somebody I Used to Know” (2023), a romantic comedy co-written by couple and frequent collaborators, Dave Franco and Alison Brie. The Daily had the opportunity to attend a college roundtable interview featuring Franco, Brie and Jay Ellis, inviting an insider look into the making of the film.

This is not the first time Brie and Franco have worked on a project together, as Brie starred in Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental” (2020). The two were eager to collaborate again, as Franco said, “we just have similar sensibilities, and we have the same sense of humor.” Moving away from the horror genre, the two decided to explore a genre they know and love: the romantic comedy. Taking inspiration from the classics, including “Pretty Woman” (1990), “When Harry Met Sally…” (1989), “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), the duo set out to create a story surrounding “real people going through real issues.” 

The film follows workaholic TV producer Ally (Brie), whose career has taken a sudden turn for the worse. Her reality show “Dessert Island” has gotten canceled , leading her to pack everything up and pay a visit to her quaint hometown in Washington. Amid her professional woes, she ends up running into her first love and ex-boyfriend, Sean (Ellis). The two hit it off, and Ally hopes to rekindle their relationship. That hope is quickly quashed when she learns of his much younger fiancée, Cassidy (Kiersey Clemons). This ignites a convoluted scheme to attend the imminent wedding and win Sean back.

On the surface, “Somebody I Used to Know” seems like a classic romantic comedy of second chance lovers. In keeping with the genre, the film should end with Ally and Sean together, happily ever after, right? Wrong! This is where “Somebody I Used to Know” deviates from predictable tropes. When writing the film, Brie and Franco took what they knew and loved about the genre and set out to create something more “surprising and unique.” According to Franco, they wanted it to be “a little more complicated and a little messier.” 

Things certainly do get messy, especially as Ally gets closer to the bride. Ally learns that Cassidy is quitting her rock band — a choice she is struggling with, but one that she must make in order to have a future with Sean. Ally deeply identifies with this struggle, as ten years earlier she broke up with Sean for that very reason, choosing to pursue her filmmaking career instead. In getting closer to Cassidy, who is free spirited and brimming with ambition, Ally finds herself confronting the person she used to be. Contrary to traditional romantic comedy tropes, “Somebody I Used to Know” shifts focus from romantic intimacy to one shared between two similar women. Brie, who is especially drawn to portraying female relationships, wanted to “play with the classic rom-com tropes of the bride … and humanize her and also make her really cool and interesting and not a stereotype.” In doing so, the two women were able to truly see each other when no one else could.

For Brie, the sentiments of career anxiety were all too familiar.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that Ally’s show gets canceled  after a third season, when she thinks there's gonna be a fourth, and we wrote this right after ‘GLOW’ got canceled , after we had shot the first two episodes of our fourth season,” she said. 

The familiarities don’t stop there. Ally curiously has a penchant for nudity, which Franco said was inspired by Brie’s days at a “very progressive liberal arts school.” 

“She would streak across campus to make her friends laugh,” he said.

As the romantic comedy genre becomes increasingly stale, “Somebody I Used to Know” provides much-needed refreshment. The writing is personal and intimate, reflecting the true intimacy between many of the people who worked on the film. Fans of the show “Community” (2009–2015) will be delighted to witness the Danny Pudi and Brie reunion, which Brie confirms as “the first time [they] have been on set together since ‘Community.’” Other familiar faces include Amy Sedaris, who Brie knows from “BoJack Horseman” (2014–2020), and Clemons, who worked with Franco on the TV show “Easy” (2016–2019). 

With two directed movies under his belt, where does Franco see himself going from here? “I’m really excited to kinda get back to acting,” he told us. In terms of directing, he thinks he needs “a small break” because “it’s so all-consuming,” but may reenter the horror genre when he does return. This will not be the last you see of Brie and Franco, as they are “already developing” some new projects.

“Somebody I Used to Know” is a story of love, nostalgia and self-discovery. It is now available on Amazon Prime, so give it a watch to be reminded of all the things that make the rom-com genre so great.

 

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary “Somebody I Used to Know” is a story of love, nostalgia and finally self-discovery. In a genre that has become increasingly stale, it provides much-needed refreshment.
3.5 Stars