Netflix’s Someone Great plays out like the visual version of Lorde’s “Supercut.” The song, which is also cleverly placed in the film and promptly re-entered the U.S. iTunes charts last weekend following its release, recounts a magical relationship after the breakup. But instead of surveying the wreckage, Lorde presses play on the good times. “All the moments I play in the dark / Wild and fluorescent, come home to my heart,” she sings.
Someone Great’s Jenny (played by Gina Rodriguez, world’s most likeable actress) finds herself in a similar situation. After landing her dream music writing job with Rolling Stone, she and her boyfriend of nine years, Nate (acted by a very hunky LaKeith Stanfield), call it quits, fearing they won’t survive a long-distance relationship split between New York City and Jenny’s future home, San Francisco (In case you were curious, Netflix knows the Rolling Stone offices relocated from California to NYC in 1977—the discrepancy is a nod to Almost Famous). The movie opens with the head-over-heels couple making a run for the bar—to the tune of UGK’s and Outkast’s “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)”—after a mythical one-night festival where A$AP Rocky and The Postal Service both played sets (the most unlikely scenario in the whole dang movie). Then it cuts to a weeping Jenny pouring her heart out to a stranger on the subway platform, and we find out it was just a happy memory, the first of many flashbacks.
The pulsing pop tune from Lorde’s 2017 album Melodrama plays while a literal “Supercut” of Jenny’s and Nate’s relationship flashes before our eyes—Instagram posts, Facebook messages, texts, emails and exchanges with Jenny’s two best friends, Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise) serve as an intro to a film about reminiscing, reconnecting with friends and, ultimately, moving forward on your own. For the next 90 minutes, the supercut plays on as Jenny, Blair and Erin embark on one more wild escapade in the city together. They try tracking down wristbands for the sold-out Neon Classic, the annual scene party where they’d witnessed that implausible bill a few years earlier, in an attempt to distract Jenny from her heartache. But copious amounts of alcohol, drugs and pep talks only go so far—everywhere they go sparks memories of Jenny’s relationship. Wrapped up in the 90 minutes of shenanigans, flashbacks and celebrity cameos is a music fan’s dream soundtrack.
The morning after the split, Jenny belts the lyrics to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in her kitchen while waiting for Erin to arrive with materials for post-breakup mimosas. Then the shuffle spits out Vampire Weekend’s “Mansard Roof,” which takes Jenny straight back to the night when she met Nate in college. She falls apart, leading Erin to call for backup at Blair’s office, where Superorganism’s “Everybody Wants to Be Famous” plays unassumingly over a loudspeaker. Cuts from Phoebe Bridgers’ “Motion Sickness” and “Scott Street” serve as the movie’s mini-score. Mitski’s “Your Best American Girl” later sounds off during an intense sex scene from one of Jenny’s and Nate’s last nights as a couple. Robyn’s “Missing U” lowlights the Neon Classic afterparty. Frank Ocean’s cover of “Moon River” controls one particularly emotional scene. And while James Murphy denied requests for the use of LCD Soundsystem songs in the film, director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson says the seminal NYC band was a big inspiration (hence the title, which shares a name with the song from 2007’s Sound Of Silver).
Rodriguez is, as always, loveable as hell. Wise gives an endearing performance as the romantically hesitant Erin, and the two women, along with Snow, master a refreshing version of the romantic comedy in which female friendship, not just love interests, serves as a plot centerpiece—at one point, Erin, admiring the trio in the mirror, says, “I am deeply obsessed with us right now.” Their antics and interactions feel very real and close to my actual experience with 20-something friendships. Someone Great’s version of New York City—ruled by women, weed and music—recalls that of TV shows like The Bold Type, Broad City, Girls and Russian Doll all at once. With appearances by RuPaul as an upscale drug dealer who could only be described as “boujee,” Rosario Dawson as Nate’s gossipy, busy-bee cousin and Questlove as a chill party DJ, Someone Great is crunchy, flashy and celebratory through grief. As with Netflix’s delightful To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it’s again proof that the romantic comedy isn’t dead—it’s just being reincarnated on streaming platforms.
And as much as I enjoyed watching an R-rated New York City spree complete with foul language, bathroom sex, fierce friendship and joints the size of baseball bats, Someone Great is most memorable for its music. A mixtape of indie stalwarts, pop bliss and Big Freedia, the soundtrack is heaps of fun, deeply meaningful and the most realistic aspect of the film—except maybe the girls’ struggle to get spots on the guest list. That battle is all too real.
Watch Phoebe Bridgers’ 2017 Paste Studio session: