Still of Alison Brie and Danny Pudi from the film Somebody I Used To Know.

Film Review: Somebody I Used To Know

Film Reviews

Somebody I Used To Know
Director: Dave Franco

Amazon Studios, Black Bear Pictures, Temple Hill Entertainment
Streaming: 02.10

Genre is a tricky thing to master, but Dave Franco is getting the hang of it. Somebody I Used To Know is Franco’s second feature after the 2020 horror flick The Rental—a quiet, significant and wonderfully entertaining take on the dangers of share-economy features like Airbnb. It’s interesting that Franco chose to follow up that film with a romantic comedy.

Somebody I Used To Know features Franco’s Co-writer and wife, Alison Brie, as the lead character, Ally. Before leaving the small town in which she grew up, Ally dreamt of becoming a documentarian. Instead, she became a reality show creator, which has resulted in her life’s work becoming the show Dessert Island.

After the show’s cancellation leaves her professional life in ruins, Ally returns to her hometown on the pretense of visiting her mother. While at the local bar, Ally shares a magical, semi-platonic evening with her ex. Ally feels that rekindling their love affair will solve her problems and decides to make every effort to win him back.

With just about as Hallmark-y of a premise as you can get, it would be easy to write off Somebody I Used To Know. However, the film’s subtle brilliance and entertainment value should keep the viewer from doing anything but.

Since the golden age of the universally enjoyed rom-com is essentially over, the notion that the genre could have something new or interesting to say can be difficult to entertain. Luckily, Franco and Brie understand that in order to make new headway in an already plentiful area, the filmmaker must acknowledge and humor traditional tropes while simultaneously subverting conventions. 

Somebody I Used To Know diverts from the traditional path by taking some insightful twists and turns that prevent the viewer from predicting the ending. It also emulates the classics by spending time on the little things such as jokes and friendships. In typical rom-com fashion, the best friends are half the fun.

Danny Pudi and Haley-Joel Osment steal the show as Ally’s friends. However, instead of telling the lead to go for her goals, Pudi’s character provides realistic and occasionally harsh advice to Ally, preventing the film from becoming too fantastical to be taken seriously. 

Franco’s visual style strays from the hyper-bright lighting that has become the standard for romantic-comedy since the 1990s. His brown-toned and non-flashy shooting style lends an element of beauty and seriousness to a film that works if the viewer gives it a chance. Somebody I Used To Know is about self-actualization, change and reflection in a way that’s actually pretty fun. –Mickey Randle

Read more reviews of rom-coms:
Film Review: Your Place Or Mine
Slamdance Film Review: Love Dump