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Thursday, July 18, 2024

A sneak peek into ‘Somebody I Used To Know,’ a new unconventional love story written by Dave Franco and Alison Brie

The writers joined a college publication roundtable to discuss the film premiering on Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 10


By ANA BACH — arts@theaggie.org


“Somebody I Used to Know,” a movie written by Dave Franco and Alison Brie, will premiere on Feb. 10 on Amazon Prime v+Video. On Feb. 2, the California Aggie had the opportunity to join a college publication roundtable with Franco, Brie and Jay Ellis, who plays Sean in the film, discussing the ideas that sparked the making of the film as well as some of the movie’s key takeaways.

Franco, known for his breakout role in “21 Jump Street,” and parts in “Neighbors” and “Nerve” joined together with Alison Brie, known for her comedic roles in “Community” and “Bojack Horseman,” to write the film. Brie and Franco also collaborated on Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental.” This time, they said that they wanted to creatively share the stage and bond over their appreciation of the romantic comedy genre. 

“Alison and I had such a wonderful experience working together on “The Rental” and, since then, we’ve been very proactive in trying to find ways to collaborate,” Franco said. “The genre that we share the most mutual affection for is romantic comedies, so we decided to start there.”

The film initially follows a stereotypical rom-com plot line, but later changes course by focusing on the theme of self-reflection, driven by memories of past relationships.

“It starts out like a rom-com where you know — or think you know — where the story is going, but we really tried to subvert these expectations,” said Brie. “We are taking these complex characters, putting them in these classic rom-com situations and then showing very real human reactions. So, I think that kinda sets us apart.” 

The film aims to use past relationships — both platonic and romantic — and memories as tools to use for furthering your development in life.

While creating “Somebody I Used to Know,” Franco and Brie said they would write alongside each other, sharing ideas about how best to frame certain scenes and make humor and dialogue decisions to best fit what they wanted the film’s overall feeling to be. 

“The way it actually looked was, it was me at the computer typing away and Alison kinda pacing back and forth,” Franco said. “I would say to her ‘Alright, what would you say in this scenario?’ and she would just start improvising and acting it out and I would write down every word she was saying.” 

Franco tried to “diagnose” why the couple works so well together but ultimately stressed that it’s best not to “over-analyze” their dynamic. 

“In terms of why it works, we just have similar sensibilities and the same sense of humor. It might be annoying to say but for whatever reason, we just don’t butt heads when it comes to working together creatively,” Franco said. 

While filming the movie, Franco and Brie had the opportunity to meet with a nudist community, whose space is featured in the film. Franco explained that the inspiration for including a nudist colony in the film came from Brie’s high school experience.

“Alison went to a very progressive liberal arts school, where there was a rule that you don’t have to wear clothes anywhere except the cafeteria,” Franco stated, explaining how Brie would streak across campus, similar to how Brie’s character, Ally, does in the film.

Nudity in “Somebody I Used to Know” is representative of people’s purest forms and ties beautifully into the story with Ally’s development.

“The movie starts with Alison’s character very buttoned up and a little fierce and, by the end of the movie, it’s all out for the world to see, representing her getting back to her purest self,” Franco explained.

The nudist community that they collaborated with happens to be the oldest nudist retreat in the pacific northwest. “They were some of the most joyous, open, welcoming, happy people I’ve ever met,” Franco said. “It felt right for [Alison’s] character to end up in that scenario.” 

Brie shared that one of the keys of this movie is her knack for telling stories about women, citing the malleability of female relationships as well as the wide variety of feelings in those relationships as a driving factor behind this project. 

“I just love how [female relationships] can take on so many forms and two things can happen at the same time,” Brie said.

Franco discussed how the film challenges the stereotype of women struggling to choose between career aspirations and romantic relationships, emphasizing that the weight this ultimatum places on many.

“You can have both. You don’t need to choose one or the other and hopefully, you find someone, a partner, who understands you and who will make certain sacrifices so that you can be your truest self and explore all avenues that you want to,” Franco said. “When you are younger, you may have certain aspirations and dreams that don’t come to fruition as you get older. Even if you are not necessarily content in your current situation, it’s not too late to pivot and get back to the things that make you happy.”

Franco urged people to embrace nourishing their creative sides — and that it is never too late to do so. 

“I think about my own dad, who went to college for painting, then for the next forty years, he went away from that and into business,” Franco said. “In his last few years of his life, he got back into painting, just as a hobby, and I had never seen him happier… you don’t need to make a career out of these things, but you gotta listen to these urges inside of you.”

Franco said that women, and people in general, are often given ultimatums regarding their work and personal life balance, but that it is possible to “have your cake and eat it too.” Sometimes we don’t need to make a career out of those outlets that we have for expression, but we do owe it to ourselves to fulfill those urges. 


Written by: Ana Bach — arts@theaggie.org