When the melancholic romantic comedy “We Broke Up” opens, Lori (Aya Cash) and Doug (William Jackson Harper) have been a couple for 10 years. They live together, they still laugh at each other’s jokes. But when Doug asks Lori to marry him, she throws up on the spot. This is the beginning of their end as a couple.
The problem for this pair — besides their suddenly strained communication, their differing expectations for a long-term future and the fact that their stable relationship has now reached its breaking point — is the timing of this heartbreak. Lori’s sister Bea is getting married in a few days, and both Lori and Doug are included in the wedding party. The pair agree to attend the wedding and keep their separation a secret from family and friends.
The director Jeff Rosenberg tries to maintain a balance between the comedic shenanigans of bachelorette games and rehearsal dinners, and the pain of breaking up. But secondary characters, like Lori’s family members or the fellow wedding attendees, are sketched in a way that leaves them overly broad. Lori and Doug’s smiles through gritted teeth don’t exactly cue the audience to relax into a good time.
The film is tense through scenes that might have been funny and maudlin when addressing the emotional stakes for the former couple. The overwhelming impression is that of shrillness. It’s a tone that might be familiar to those who have experienced a broken heart, but this shallow exercise offers meager opportunity for discomfort to transform into either entertainment or contemplation.
We Broke Up
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes. In theaters. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.
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