Untraditional happily ever afters

‘Somebody I Used to Know’ illustrates how moving on from past feelings can bring more personal fulfillment

Isabella Tranello, Features Editor

Kiersey Clemons and Alison Brie star in Somebody I Used to Know. (Scott Patrick Green/Prime Video)

Sometimes life does not work out the way a person plans. Their hopes and dreams for a bright future may never come to fruition. Even if they do accomplish their goals, doubt can slowly start to sink in and dissatisfaction may take over. This doubt can leave a person wondering what would have happened if they had chosen differently. 

Dave Franco’s second directorial project “Somebody that I Used to Know,” which premiered on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 10, illustrates how revisiting a person’s past may open doors to new love, friendships and dreams. 

Ally, a once dedicated documentary filmmaker, has made her big break as the showrunner of the reality TV show and baking competition “Dessert Island.” Unfortunately for Ally, the show is canceled after three seasons, which sends her into a spiral of doubt and worry about the future of her career. 

Ally then returns to her hometown of Leavenworth, Washington, where she is forced to come face-to-face with her ex-boyfriend Sean, who she abandoned to pursue her dream. Ally soon finds out that Sean is now engaged to a new woman named Cassidy played by Kiersey Clemmons

Despite the heartbreak that Ally feels when discovering Sean’s relationship status, she still attempts to sneak her way back into his heart as she becomes the videographer for his wedding. Along the way, she uses every tactic to pull Sean and Cassidy apart, including inviting Cassidy’s estranged parents to her wedding.

Although this film plays into certain tropes of typical romance movies, such as the forbidden lovers trope, it also begins to pull away from them. Sean is seen constantly doubting his relationship with Cassidy amid Ally’s presence despite his lack of availability. However, despite the temptation that lingers, Ally soon begins to halt her advancements.                                 

Alison Brie, the actress who portrays Ally, believes that her character’s decision to halt her pursuit of Sean’s affection is rooted in her newly found understanding and care for Cassidy. 

“I think what it is really about is that when Ally meets Cassidy she so identifies with her. First of all, she really likes her, but also Cassidy reminds her of herself when she was younger, when she was more of a free spirit,” Brie said. “Part of that journey is her wanting to protect Cassidy in the way that she wishes she protected herself. It’s sort of like through Cassidy, she is reminded of what she loves about herself and also reminded about what doesn’t work between her and Sean.” 

Cassidy and Ally’s relationship is beautifully formed. It exhibits the free nature which both women yearn to unleash, and they do as they run naked together across a golf course. During the writing of the movie,  director Dave Franco alongside Brie, who is also his wife, decided to model a small portion of Ally’s personality after Brie herself. 

“Alison came from a very progressive liberal arts school where there was a rule that you don’t have to wear clothes anywhere except the cafeteria. She would streak across campus to make her friends laugh,” Franco said. “So, that was kind of the impetus for the nudity in the film, but then we really use it as a metaphor in a way where the movie starts with Alison’s character a little buttoned up and a little fierce, and by the end of the movie, it’s all out for the world to see. It kind of represents her getting back to her purist self.”

Now that Cassidy has been influenced by Ally’s determination, Sean has no choice but to swallow his pride. Otherwise, he will lose the only woman that was willing to sacrifice all her dreams for him. 

Jay Ellis, known for his roles in the movie, “Top Gun: Maverick,” and tv-show, “Insecure,” plays Sean in the movie and states that the root of Sean’s insecurity lies in poor communication.

“I think you need to take a step back and just like communicate. You gotta realize that being a partner means being supportive of someone else’s dreams as well,” Ellis said. “Like, they can’t just be in your plan, you have to plan and create together. My advice to him would just be to check in, to really understand, to listen to what she wants and she needs to feel free and to feel happy.”

In the end, the two main characters do not end up together and romance movie standards are shattered. 

“Somebody I Used to Know” teaches a valuable lesson about moving on from past pain and rediscovering true dreams and passions, not about true love. Both characters end up living a more fulfilled life and begin to prosper; although they are separated in the process. 

“That would have been the obvious route to take, and that’s the last thing we wanted to do. You know, Alison and I wrote this movie together, and we both genuinely love romantic comedies, but we used what we know and love about the genre to almost lead the audience down a certain path where they might think, ‘Oh, I know what’s going to happen.’” Franco said. “But then we try to pull the rug out from under them every step of the way. We wanted to make something a little more complicated and a little messier.”

The true message of this film is that a person’s dreams are worth fighting for, even if someone or something they love is trying to hold them back. Sacrifices must be made for true happiness and fulfillment, both in a person’s career and love life. 

While Franco’s film has comedic elements, it does not distract from the main purpose of the story, which gives Ally and Sean’s relationship the conclusion it needed. Although it was difficult to watch Sean’s unloyal behavior and Ally purposefully sabotaging Cassidy, every element of the story fit. It all was a necessary step toward their growth and eventual recovery from the heartache they inflicted on each other.