Three twenty-something couples – gay, lesbian and straight – travel to a beach house to enjoy the last days of summer, but what was meant to be a fun, carefree retreat transforms into an intimate exploration of sex and commitment. Moment-to-moment, relationships are tested as tensions between the couples and friends begin to simmer. THAT’S NOT US is a romantic comedy that questions what it takes to sustain a healthy long-term partnership. While gender and sexuality may vary, the struggles to make love last do not.
Whiskey-fueled card games, buzz-killing wisecracks, and overdue emotional conversations are just part of what three New York couples pack into one end-of-the-season beach house vacation. From the refreshingly natural, accessible ensemble cast to the consciously relaxed filmmaking style, everything about That’s Not Us invites the viewer to join the romantic ebb and flow of these young, thoughtful friends.
Al adores her longtime partner Jackie, but it’s tough for them to talk about the sexual dry spell they’re suffering. Meanwhile, Liz and Dougie can’t keep their hands off each other, though their competitive natures sometimes get in the way of romantic harmony. And James and Spencer recently moved in together, but Spencer’s acceptance to grad school threatens to put both physical and emotional distance between them.
Director William Sullivan and DP Derek Dodge gave their cast a brief outline and let the scenes unfold organically, with the actors improvising much of their dialogue. The result is an honest take on contemporary relationships, packed with genuine interactions and nuanced performances. The film finds the quiet moments when otherwise happily paired people feel alone despite being within arm’s reach of their partners, and it revels in the rare moments when communication triumphs over silence. The filmmakers set out to make a romantic comedy about “the marathon of romance,” and they’ve achieved that goal in spades, highlighting the often awkward, funny, and messy work it takes to make love last.
— Laura Henneman