Does it get more awkward than pretending to be together for the greater good? Romantic comedy We Broke Up, hailing from writer/director Jeff Rosenberg and co-writer Laura Jacqmin, makes the case for some semblance of originality in the well-worn waters of the genre. Lori (Aya Cash) and Doug (William Jackson Harper) have called it quits after 10 years together. Following an embarrassing but heartfelt proposal, Lori makes it clear she thinks taking the next step could spell trouble for them. Doug is so infuriated by her indifference that he leaves her. In order to make things smoother for her sister Bea’s wedding, Lori and Doug decide to play along and fake that they’re still together. Through pretending to be in love, can they find that spark again?
We Broke Up is uniquely structured, letting us get to know the happy couple only momentarily in the opening scene. Doug asks Lori to marry him at a Chinese takeout spot, then we instantly cut to them sitting together silently in the car—polar opposites. The rest of our journey with Lori and Doug is the duo at their lowest romantic point. By exposing us to them at their worst, it allows the audience to root for them to make things work all over again. William Jackson Harper and Aya Cash are solid as their prospective characters, but I never fully believed the two were in love. William’s Doug is the more sympathetic out of the couple. However, both Doug and Lori are flawed and messy. The script refuses to simplify their relationship and examines it with close scrutiny.
We Broke Up is really an ensemble piece. Lori’s complicated relationship with her impulsive sister Bea (Sarah Bolger) and her judgmental mother Adelaide (Peri Gilpin) forms the bulk of the outward drama. Bea’s fiancé Jayson (Tony Calavero) provides most of the comedy, and seems to be a fitting love interest. We Broke Up would make a great double feature with 2006’s The Break Up. It’s far more hopeful and less depressing than The Break Up, with an adorable final frame that made me smile. It doesn’t quite stick the landing, and I didn’t always buy Doug and Lori as a longterm couple. Despite a couple caveats, We Broke Up is a fun and unconventional rom-com that will please fans of the genre.
We Broke Up releases in theaters on Friday, April 16th, and on VOD/digital on April 23rd.