At this point, the coming-of-age movie that unfolds over the course of a single day is a tried-and-true formula. The Get Together is the most recent entry in the genre, and it’s the rare example of a film that both evokes classics like Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused and George Lucas’ American Graffiti, while very much creating its own unique identity.
Part of what sets the film apart is that instead of the high school or recent high-school grads these movies usually focus on, The Get Together centers on the intertwined stories of a group of recent college grads in their mid-20s as they converge at a house party in Austin, Texas. Co-written and directed by Will Bakke, the movie is divided into chapters, each spotlighting a different character as they navigate the complex social dynamics of the party and the complex feelings it brings up.
August (Courtney Parchman), an Uber driver, moved to Austin with her best friend McCall (Luxy Banner) a year ago, but while McCall’s thrived, August has flailed. So when she accidentally ends up at the party and discovers McCall is there with a group of new friends, difficult truths come to light. Meanwhile, Betsy (Johanna Brady) is in town from New York City, visiting her family with her long-time boyfriend Damien (Jacob Artist) in tow. What she doesn’t know is that by reconnecting with her old college friends at the party, she’s ruining Damien’s plans to propose. And then there’s Caleb (Alejandro Rose Garcia), a struggling musician and Betsy’s ex, who’s having a hard time embracing adulthood, even as his friends are moving forward. Each of the four characters is at a crossroads, and over the course of the night, each ends up pondering the next chapter of their lives.
The Get Together‘s story sits at the intersection of carefree young adulthood and the point where responsibilities like marriage, children and career take over. While the movie’s often quite funny, by mining comedy from the challenges of embracing true adulthood, it also has a poignant, wistful quality as it evokes a time in life when things start to change even if we don’t want them to. And of course, all the action is backed by a great soundtrack of perfectly chosen indie bands.
The film’s clever structure uses its four main characters as anchors for the larger narrative, which includes a sprawling cast of quirky characters. The four protagonists are likable and sympathetic even as they confront their own personal disappointments and uncertainties, which makes it easy to care about their stories. Plus, by showing what happens at the party from each character’s perspective, the movie is able to fill in the blanks left by earlier plot points, ultimately creating a puzzle-like experience that includes fun call-backs and revelations.
The Get Together runs a lean 75 minutes, but despite the brevity, it’s a fully realized, emotionally satisfying experience. This is the rare film that is both a lot of fun and touchingly relatable in its exploration of the unique trials and tribulations of one’s 20s.