Somebody I Used to Know movie review (2023)

But it is no longer enough. Two network executives, played by the always-hilarious Sam Richardson and Zoe Chao (also of this week’s “Your Place or Mine”), cancel the series. The show has consumed Ally’s entire life. It defines her. She has never taken those ten seconds to consider whether she’s where she wants to be. With no idea of what to do next, she decides to go to the one place she was sure she didn’t want to be, her hometown.  

Ally then finds her mother (Julie Hagerty) in bed with a man and flees to a local bar, where she runs into Sean (a magnetic Jay Ellis), the ex she left behind to follow her dreams. 

We know what the Hallmark Movie Channel version of this story would be. But Brie and her co-screenwriter, husband, and director Dave Franco like to subvert those conventions, as Brie did as co-writer for last year’s “Spin Me Round.” Brie likes to give her characters some humiliating setbacks. And, less successfully, she likes to satirize pop culture: in “Spin Me Round,” it was chain restaurants and the people who run and like them; in this film, it’s reality television. The heightened tone of those moments and a few other detours are a distraction from the otherwise-skillful establishment of more grounded connections and emotions.

But first, that Hallmark movie set-up.

Ally and Sean have a magical evening together, talking, laughing, and enjoying what seems like a random all-night Tyrolian festival, with alphorns and maypole dancing. Ally, feeling lost and alone, wonders if she can still have the life she once thought was not good enough for her. 

Sean never wanted to leave his home, possibly because of a sense of abandonment by his biological parents he has struggled with, possibly because he is Black and his family is white. He is very attached to his family. Sean has gone to work for his father and built his dream home on his parents’ property. His certainty and sense of community suddenly appeal to Ally. It feels very comfortable to settle back into the easy rhythm she has with Sean, and when she goes to his house to see him the next evening, with his family. 

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