Every week, new original films debut on Netflix and other streaming services, often to much less fanfare than their big-screen counterparts. Cinemastream is Vox’s series highlighting the most notable of these premieres, in an ongoing effort to keep interesting and easily accessible new films on your radar.
The premise: After her nine-year relationship with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield) ends in heartbreak, music journalist Jenny (Gina Rodriguez) recruits her two best friends, Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) to help her pick up the pieces over one long, twisty day and night in New York City.
What it’s about: Someone Great falls into that hallowed genre of comedies in which a tightly knit group of friends experiences a series of self-realizations (in some movies more than others) over the course of one crazy day. (Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Clerks or Dazed and Confused or Superbad or the upcoming Booksmart.)
But this one is different from most of its predecessors in a few ways. For one, Blair, Jenny, and Erin are all about 29 years old, which changes the stakes of their relationships and shapes how they think about what they need from the future. Jenny has just accepted her dream job with Rolling Stone, but that means she’s moving to San Francisco — and that’s why, at least on the surface, her relationship with Nate has ended. Meanwhile, Erin is resisting committing to her relationship with Leah (Rebecca Naomi Jones), and Blair is in a rut with her boyfriend Will (Alex Moffat).
So the day in which they try to acquire tickets (and weed and molly) for a music festival doubles as a day to play hooky from their jobs, try to work out their relationship issues, engage in some questionable behavior, and say farewell for now to their life together in New York. They’ve been inseparable since they were undergrads at NYU, but things change as people get older. Life goes on.
Someone Great is both sentimental and melancholic, and feels a bit disjointed in the way these movies always do (besides getting some things about the magazine industry wrong, like plenty of other movies do). It’s structured as a Proustian journey for Jenny, for whom a song, a storefront, or a bottle of diet soda can provoke memories (rendered as flashbacks) that bring her back to moments with Nate that were once wonderful and are now painful.
But the movie is ultimately upbeat — a hopeful break-up film, with three leads who sparkle together. Circumstances change and people change and relationships change, but that doesn’t make what happened any less wonderful. And real friends will stick with you through all of it.
Critical consensus: Someone Great currently has a score of 62 on Metacritic. At Time, Stephanie Zacharek writes, “As played by Rodriguez, Wise and Snow, these women embrace one another’s differences and help ease the way through tough times. The city is theirs for the taking, a backdrop for their raunchy jokes, furtive sexual encounters and procurement of various feel-good substances.”
Where to watch: Someone Great is streaming on Netflix.