For Dr. Clara Barron’s patients, a consultation in her Los Angeles OB/GYN office can double as a couple’s therapy session. While her own love life is nothing worth emulating, Clara, played by How to Get Away with Murder star Karla Souza, is always comfortable dishing out unsolicited advice about how relationships are supposed to work. Still, before she can find stable companionship for herself, Clara must rethink what “love” really means and reconcile her fantasy idea of romance with the realities of life. It’s a romantic comedy theme you’ve seen before, and though Catalina Aguilar Mastretta’s Everybody Loves Somebody never strays too far from the expected rom-com mold (girl longs for her toxic ex, ignoring overtures from a sweet new boy while slowly realizing true love may be right under her nose), the crisp performances and steady stream of well-executed jokes make this is a welcomed take on what would often feel like a trite premise.
Clara’s parents, swept up in a love that Clara envisions for herself, are finally marrying at their home in Mexico after 40 years together. Clara doesn’t want to go stag to her parents’ wedding, so she recruits a guileless, fresh-faced hospital internist, Asher Grace (Ben O’Toole), to pose as her plus-one. You can see where this is going.
Asher and Clara’s budding friendship moves along predictably until Clara’s charismatic ex-boyfriend (José María Yazpik) crashes the wedding and shakes up Clara’s life. Mexican film star Yazpik plays Daniel as a charming but peripatetic ex-love: He once stole Clara’s heart, only to abandon her abruptly, leaving her love life in stasis for years.
With Daniel back in the picture, the ensuing love triangle raises the stakes for Asher and Clara, kicking the film’s performances into gear. Everybody Loves Somebody is at its best when showcasing the vibrant energy between Clara and the two men competing for her affection. What this romantic comedy lacks in adventurous storytelling, it makes up for in the natural chemistry between the actors, and the film’s strongest, most well-acted moments come from Clara’s close-nit, overbearing family nosily inserting itself into the already complicated dynamic between Clara, Asher and Daniel. Tiaré Scanda delivers a stellar performance as Clara’s sister, insecure about her own marriage and lovingly concerned about Clara’s emotional well-being during her romantic tug-of-war.
Everybody Loves Somebody doesn’t deviate far from the expected rom-com playbook, employing many of the genre’s predictable motifs, such as the just-a-friend-turned-love-interest, or the “reformed” ex who you know was bad for you. Nonetheless, the film makes an effective, embraceable statement on realistic expectations of what love can be. On its surface, the film’s tone is light and breezy, with a fast-paced plot and effortless jokes, but just beneath its playful veneer, Everybody Loves Somebody touches on deeper feelings of loneliness and ennui. If writer and director Catalina Aguilar Mastretta’s aim was to put a hopeful spin on everyday disenchantment and disillusion in real-world relationships, then she succeeded.
Director: Catalina Aguilar Mastretta
Writer: Catalina Aguilar Mastretta
Starring: Karla Souza, Ben O’Toole, José María Yazpik
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Jake Lauer is a New York-based writer and copywriter with bylines in Complex, Maxim and Uproxx. You can check out more of his writing here.