Set against the backdrop of a Los Angeles summer, In a Relationship is a dramedy that tries to get at what is it about a relationship that makes us happy.
In making the film, Sam Boyd has marked his feature directorial debut. He does so by basing the screenplay on his acclaimed 2015 short film. What the film does in essence is take the romantic comedy genre and takes away a lot of the nonsense that people find annoying.
In one corner, we have Hallie (Emma Roberts) and Owen (Michael Angarano). In another corner, we have Hallie’s cousin, Willa (Dree Hemingway) and Owen’s buddy, Matt (Patrick Gibson). As Hallie and Owen are on the outs around the July 4th Independence Day holiday, Willa and Matt are allowing their relationship to bloom. There’s a lot of meet-cutes in cinematic history but perhaps none can be as hysterical as the first on-camera meeting between Willa and Matt. The film builds up to the moment in which they officially decide that they’re a couple.
Despite their issues, Hallie makes the suggestion of moving in with Owen as a way to help with his rent payment issues. She’s spending so much time at his place so naturally, it makes perfect sense. By August, things have reached the point in their relationship in which they decide that it’s time for a break.
Matt, for what its worth, has some quirks of his own by way of a color-coded bookcase and rocket-ship comforter. He lives at home with his parents, both of whom he says are “working on a Marvel movie in Atlanta.” By taking his parents out of the picture for a few months, they manage to avoid any parental conflict that has become so cliche in the genre.
With the abundance of romantic comedies, there are films in which people can’t relate to the characters. What Boyd does with the genre is get rid of a lot of that. The characters feel real enough that we can buy into the authenticity of the characters. This is one of the things that can be enjoyed in not only the script but the performances, too. It wouldn’t work without their chemistry either. There’s some interesting moments that take place following the break-up but it’s best experienced without knowing what happens.
With characters that feel very real, In A Relationship isn’t a genre game-changer by any means but still presents a fresh take on the romantic comedy.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Sam Boyd
CAST: Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Dree Hemingway, Patrick Gibson, Jay Ellis, Melora Walters
An official selection of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, In a Relationship will premiere in the Spotlight Narrative program.