Review: Sad and moving no longer add up to much in ‘We Broke Up’
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He proposes. She upchucks. Not a quite auspicious start to a beautiful wedding. Indeed, the vomit could be the beginning of the end for Doug ( William Jackson Harper ) plus Lori ( Aya Cash ), yet it’s just the beginning of “We Broke Up, ” the sweet, sad little tale of love lost and transformed. One would be enticed to call it a rom-com, but the film is lighting on the romance, more poignant than funny. Unfortunately, we all haven’t yet come up with a pithy title for the subgenre associated with moving and melancholy movies about adults and their emotional baggage.
While rom-coms tend to be wordy, “We Broke Up” is more about the silence between these types of soon-to-be exes. Director Shaun Rosenberg, who co-wrote the script with Laura Jacqmin, makes good use of visible storytelling to highlight the irony afoot, which is that 12 hours after their particular 10-year relationship implodes inside a parking lot, Doug and Lori have to hit the road for her sister’s wedding. Doug, because the “king of the ushers, ” insists on accompanying her, and somewhere along the way, these people decide to hide the split. But the little lie earthworms its way into every dark emotional crevice, threatening to upend every interpersonal relationship under the roof from Camp Arrowhead, site from the ceremony. It’s a low-stakes conflict, but deeply experienced.
Lori and Doug’s awkward energy can be instantly thrown into sharpened relief by the bubbly new bride, Bea ( Dorothy Bolger ), plus groom, Jayson (Tony Cavalero), who are like two human being golden retrievers in enjoy. Having just met per month earlier, their enthusiasm and fearlessness only highlights Lori’s reservations and Doug’s worries with said reservations.
Rosenberg fills out the rest of “We Broke Up” with your standard-issue whimsical indie comedy score and wacky supporting character types. The secret weapon, however , is certainly Cavalero as Jayson. By having an outsize presence that is a mixture of Adam Devine and Seann William Scott, Cavalero steals the show. Jayson’s the only real character with any enthusiasm and a clear, strong desire to achieve his goal associated with marrying Bea. He advances from the weird future brother-in-law to become, honestly, inspiring.
Taking on a leading guy role, Harper is tasked with carrying the heavier emotional weight, but this individual more than proves his elegance and chops, even though he is left spinning his wheels a bit without enough materials to work with. Though, as he gets into a rustic cabin within this mostly white enclave, you may fight the urge to shout “get out! ” since visions of his submit 2019’s folk horror flick “Midsommar” dance in your head.
Some of the zanier comedy moments don’t quite suit the energy and pacing of this film, which is far darker than it is funny. While “We Broke Up” is targeted, lean and heartfelt, it does feel at times a bit insubstantial. It’s missing the “why” at the center of this turmoil, particularly with Lori, who remains an opaque personality. But perhaps in separations, it’s better if the “whys” are left unsaid.
Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Support film critic.
‘We Broke Up’
Not really rated
Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Playing: Starts April 16, Laemmle Noho 7, Northern Hollywood; available April 23 on digital and VOD