‘Together’: One couple’s fierce showdown in lockdown

Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy do searing work in a dialogue-heavy drama with plenty of dark humor and even a little tenderness.

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Holed up during the pandemic, the partners played by James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan unleash their frustrations in “Together.”

Bleecker Street

You might well be tired of pandemic-inspired movies and series and I’m leaning in that direction myself, but I’m still recommending the blistering and razor-sharp two-hander “Together” largely on the strength of the searing and unfiltered and stunningly good performances by Sharon Horgan and James McAvoy.



Bleecker Street presents a film directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Dennis Kelly. Rated R (for language throughout). Running time: 92 minutes. Opens Thursday at local theaters.

With a dense-with-dialogue script that seems made for the stage by Dennis Kelly and clean and economic direction by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” “The Hours”), “Together” is set entirely in a comfortable home in the United Kingdom occupied by a couple — known only as He and She — and their 10-year-old son Arthur, a sensitive boy who is on some type of behavioral/development spectrum. Arthur is mostly in the background as his parents unleash their frustrations and intense dislike for each other, often breaking the fourth wall to vent directly to the camera. We’re in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” territory and it’s sometimes difficult to watch such raw vitriol, but it’s also darkly funny throughout, and there are moments of true tenderness and maybe even love.

She’s a sanctimonious and humble-bragging liberal who heads an agency aiding refugees, while he’s a closet Tory who runs a boutique tech company and is the kind of guy who hurls personal insults at the woman behind the counter at the local grocery store when she can’t honor his request for a particular kind of mushroom — a story he relates without realizing how it makes him sound like a monster.

“Together” kicks off at the outset of the lockdown, and graphics keep us posted on the number of deaths and the number of vaccinated in England as the months drag by. (We also note the passing of time via the emergence of McAvoy’s unfortunate and unironic man bun.) She and He have vowed to make the best of it during the lockdown for the sake of their son, but they can’t stand to be in the same room with one another and are nauseated by the mere thought of physical contact — until they agree to have sex because, well, they’re stuck with one another.

“Together” doesn’t carry much in the way of plot, save for a storyline about She’s mother, who has been placed in a care facility — which means she’ll be safe from the virus, right? Right? You can imagine where that storyline takes us, leading to some genuinely moving and heartbreaking passages delivered by Horgan, who is best known for her comedic work in series such as “Pulling” and “Catastrophe” and movies such as “Game Night,” but has legit dramatic chops as well. McAvoy also has his moments, as when he tells us about a second encounter with the woman at the grocery store, and how he knows she remembers him, and he tries to make things right but is powerless to do so.

Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, “Together” has no fat on the bone and features two fine actors at the very top of their games.

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