Gina Rodriguez Gets Back Into Our Good Graces With Her Latina Representation In ‘Someone Great’
If you have yet to watch the newest rom-com to drop on Netflix, you need to get on it. It will satisfy your craving for laughs, tears, romance, and encourage a deep sense of nostalgia and introspection. For “Jane the Virgin” fans waiting for the latest season to become available, this will satiate your love for Gina Rodriguez. She’s the star and a producer. But this Gina is not Jane.
Instead, she is Jenny- a flawed, foul-mouthed, hyper-passionate music writer on the verge of a new phase of life. Jenny has recently broken up with longtime boyfriend Nate (LaKeith Stanfield) after she receives a dream job on the other side of the country. She spends the next day heartbroken, seeking the help of her friends to embark on their last hurrah of their twenties in New York City. There’s booze, there’s drogas, there’s lots of foul language and sex. And yet, the movie never strays from the unconditional love that runs underneath the female friendships and the truths of the time before “real” adulthood hits.
We tend to think of coming of age stories as revolving around a child’s passage to adulthood.
“Ladybird” and “Real Women Have Curves” come to mind. The little birds leave the nest and the fall is painful and liberating. But the same can be said of the return-to-Saturn time of our late twenties when we go from young adulthood to “real” life. This is where we find our primary characters. Friends Jenny, Erin (DeWanda Wise), and Blair (Brittany Snow) have a history that runs all the way back to college. They know each others’ ticks and have kept long receipts.
The movie centers around their struggle to support their friend through the grieving process of a breakup while beginning their own grieving process of saying goodbye to her as she moves to San Francisco.
This marks the end of an era and forces the women to look forward to making different life choices that will help them become the people they want to be.
For anyone who’s lived in New York City and moved away, who’s had close friendships they’ve moved away from, or who’ve lost the love they thought was the “one”, this movie will touch a lot of tender areas in ways that are inspiring and fun. It’s a few parts “The Sweetest Thing” with a touch of “Sex and the City” and just the right amount of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It’s a story about saying goodbye to who you thought you were and moving into who you’re going to be, all while boldly feeling all the emotions that come with loss, change, love, and celebrating yourself.
“Someone Great” meets the needs of a nostalgia film for the modern audience.
The three friends are from diverse backgrounds and it’s touching to see the way that years of friendship have allowed their cultures to beautifully blend together. Jenny, who is Latina, interjects Spanglish phrases into casual conversations with her friends when she’s keeping it super real, calling Erin “Mentirosa!” for not owning her own relationship baggage. Erin, who is reluctant to fall in love with her new girlfriend Leah (Rebecca Naomi Jones), is forced to face her fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Blair, who represents the approval-seeker in a lot of us, is learning the value of speaking to her true desires instead of shrinking to please.
It shouldn’t stand out as extraordinary that we see multicultural women of differing sexual identities being friends, but as far as romantic comedies go, it’s rather groundbreaking.
We see our characters proudly displaying their “woke” merch. Blair’s favorite coffee mug has “Feminist” written boldly in hot pink and Jenny wears a crop-top reading, “Latina AF” that she receives several compliments on. The truth bomb-laden lines delivered by Wise are especially funny, edgy, and on-point. These are real women who make it a point to stay up on current events and make no apologies for their desires, their word choices, or their right to take up space. As far as coming of age stories for women, this is a new genre entirely.
The movie is only made better by the soundtrack, that rivals “Garden State” for its ability to capture not only the moment at hand but the emotions that run beneath the character arcs.
Jenny is seen early on drinking heavily while dancing to “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo. She’s spilling liquor, singing loudly and dancing in her underwear. There is no bra or thigh gap visible on our heroine, but there is sadness, anger, and beautiful, real cellulite. It’s a breath of fresh air, as is the moment when Selena’s “Dreaming of You” comes on in a bodega and pulls Jenny into a trance that makes the friends sing like it’s 1995 and they have their whole romantic lives ahead of them. Ryn Weaver’s “Reasons Not to Die” captures the feeling of “ride or die” friendship that Jenny reflects on in a forlorn cab ride across the Williamsburg Bridge.
In a time when women are fighting for the right to take up space, women of color specifically, we need films like this one to remind us what “normal” looks like. It’s a fearful, uncertain time before career climaxes, marriage, and motherhood. It’s questioning whether any of those are necessary for a happy and fulfilling life. It’s about people with a variety of identities and backgrounds seamlessly fitting together within the container of friendship. And perhaps at its most gut-wrenching and true note, it’s about the first love and not the last love, revealing the fine line between passion and dysfunction.
For anyone who is looking to reminisce, to look into the mirror and see themselves again at 29, this film feels like it was made for you.
But it was also made for those who are living this truth now, on the edge of what’s next, wondering whether the future will live up to expectation.
Jennifer Kaytin Robinson wrote and directed what feels like a love letter to uncertainty and the treasure that can be found in the midst of confusion and companionship. Watch this movie with friends if they’re nearby, or facetime them with a glass of wine after if they’re a phone call away.
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