With audiences already enmeshed in the final season of Jane the Virgin, Golden Globe-winner Gina Rodriguez is continuing to make moves into film. Her latest feature, the Netflix romantic comedy Someone Great, is a fantastic transition for the actress and her Jane the Virgin friends. In just 90 minutes Rodriguez makes you laugh, cry, and laugh while crying, telling a story about the fear of change, finding yourself, and jumping headfirst into the unknown.
Jenny (Rodriguez) has been in a relationship for eight years with Nate (Lakeith Stanfield). But when she announces she’s moving to San Francisco to pursue her dream job Nate decides to break up with her. After just 24 hours to process the split, and with only a week until she leaves her New York City home forever, Jenny decides to spend one last crazy night out with her girls Blair (Brittany Snow) and Erin (DeWanda Wise).
Director and screenwriter Jennifer Kaytin Robinson understands that women are imperfect beings and her trio of ladies are the messiest of the lot. Alongside Jenny’s breakup there’s Erin’s fear of commitment and Blair’s issues of complacency. Robinson utilizes relationships to show how remaining with the same people for decades can be stunting, and that in order to grow it’s often necessary to sever ties with the people we’re closest to.
Taking place throughout one night we see the effects of a big change happening to three friends who have been together since college. They’re all suffering from regular adult problems, but in the process of going out to a music show they’re forced to confront the issues they’re running away from. You believe these characters have known each other forever, not purely through the use of flashback – with Rodriguez being the only one to rock a different hairstyle in all that time – but through their various tells. Wise’s Erin can look at Jenny’s Instagram and realize that the use of a certain song implies a breakup. Jenny and Erin continually refer to “Bad Blair” as a reminder that their uptight friend used to be fun.
For Rodriguez, this isn’t a game-changer but illustrates that she can take Jane’s patented blend of heartfelt humor and translate that to a harsher realm. Jenny has no compunction with dropping F-bombs, smoking every joint handed to her, and getting down with Nate. This is Jane the Virgin all grown up, yet Rodriguez continues to keep Jenny accessible. There’s something delightful about watching Rodriguez dance around with her girlfriends while they try on clothes, and if you’ve watched any episodes wherein she’s upset but still puts a smile on your face this is perfection. Her opening scene sitting in the subway with a passerby (a hilarious Michelle Buteau) as they go back and forth on how wonderful Jenny is becomes both a testament to the script’s wit and Rodriguez’s comedic timing.
There are also several moments where Rodriguez showcases her Latinidad, dropping Spanish regularly throughout the film. And we’re not talking the random word the average person with a sixth grade Spanish education would notice, whole phrases. Though, her code switching doesn’t seem perfectly placed since she’s only speaking Spanglish to monolingual English speakers. But rocking a “Latina AF” t-shirt throughout, there’s a sense of pride in Jenny’s heritage without directly calling to it. The movie’s highlight even sees Jenny in a bodega drunkenly singing Selena’s “Dreaming of You” along with her friends. When Erin starts whispering the spoken parts of the song it’ll leave you on the floor.
The rest of the cast is equally brilliant but Rodriguez is the star. DeWanda Wise is luminous as Erin, who refuses to grow up. She can’t clean her room, get up to go to the farmer’s market, or call the woman she’s been seeing consistently her girlfriend. Maybe because Wise and Rodriguez are so gregarious, Snow’s Blair is sweet and neutral, but she does have a tendency to be blah. Her big arc is that she’s dating a guy she hates and is also secretly seeing one of Jenny’s exes, but what could have been a big reveal plays with a whimper. A brief appearance by Jane the Virgin guest star Rosario Dawson also takes place, with Dawson playing Stanfield’s cousin, Hannah. It could have gone somewhere, but it just feels like a surprise cameo from an actor on the same series. Stanfield’s Nate, to his credit, is never written or presented as a villain. He, too, is afraid but understands the greater good. This isn’t his story and it’s appropriate that Robinson never makes him a perfect man just waiting to make the grand gesture.
Someone Great certainly lives up to its title. Gina Rodriguez remains a lively comedienne and if this film is indicative of the projects she’s picking, we’re in for a lot of fun. A wonderfully relatable comedy for every thirty-something dreading the future.
Someone Great is currently streaming on Netflix.