Jeff Macpherson’s debut feature “Come Together” is certainly a tasty little surprise that speaks very well of Hollywood North’s independent talent.
The plot is not entirely unfamiliar for the independent romantic comedy genre, following the ironic Ewan (Tygh Runyan) as he returns home for the wedding of his recent ex-girlfriend Charlotte (The Faculty’s Laura Harris). Even the twist of his attraction to lithe teenager Amy (brilliant newcomer Eryn Collins) echoes back to 1996’s “Beautiful Girls.” But what makes Come Together stand out in this cluttered field is a combination of the strength of the actors, (particularly Runyan), and Macpherson’s sensitive direction.
In one of the most impressive title sequences since Seven we learn through a series of voice mail messages of Ewan and Charlotte’s break-up, her departure for home, and of Charlotte’s impending wedding, to which Ewan is invited. Ewan returns in an attempt to achieve closure, but ends up getting ambushed in the middle of the night by Amy, the cousin of the guy who’s house he is staying in. They gradually develop an uneasy friendship. Hilarity and heartache ensues.
Like the best films in this genre (Chasing Amy, Say Anything), Macpherson is able to use humor to illustrate the painful reality of lost love. Some of the funniest moments are found in the honest absurdity of given situations, such as the argument during dinner with Charlotte and her fiancé Mick, where the whole thing is being translated into French by Ewan’s blind “date”. A sense of situation and timing is also used to good effect in the more dramatic scenes, such as the chance encounters between Ewan and Charlotte. By using DV as a way to scale down and focus on the actors’ faces, moments of truth are uncovered in the eyes. Runyan (who’s blank stare graces this year’s Festival Poster) is particularly talented in this area, his eyes communicating loss, fear, confusion and anger– all the break-up emotions, at the same time. Also very strong are Harris (who produced the film) and Collins, who deftly moves between extreme confidence and extreme vulnerability in her portrayal of a refreshingly believable teenage character.
Although the film does have its share of clunky dialogue and unanswered questions (like, where are Amy’s parents anyway?), the awkwardness and the uncertainty add a dimension of realism. The expert score by Clinton Shorter, as well as the use of home video flashbacks also helps the whimsical/realist tone. These moments are particularly powerful in communicating the sense of lost perfection experienced during a break-up. But what is most enjoyable about “Come Together” is that, unlike a lot of other Canadian films, it isn’t trying to impress anybody.