Together is a new movie about marital relations during lockdown. Too soon? Not necessarily, but only if Sharon Horgan is involved. The writer, actress, producer, and all-around asset to screens both small and large is tackling this mess head-on in a new comedy written by her close friend Dennis Kelly and directed by Stephen Daldry (The Hours, Billy Elliot, The Crown).
In Together, Horgan plays a wife and mother who finds herself sequestered in London with her son, Artie (Samuel Logan), and husband (James McAvoy). Problem is, the adults in the room aren’t exactly getting along as of March 2020. The strife unfurls from there, and it takes all parties in unexpected directions, which is saying a lot considering that no one really leaves the house.
“I suppose I was thinking, creatively, about what was going to come out in that time,” says Horgan, Zooming in from her kitchen in Hackney. “When anything seismic happens, it has an effect, culturally. I was interested to see what sort of parallels people would draw from it, what the metaphor would be, and how it would translate into art. But I had no interest in doing a straight-up Covid film about that time.”
And who can blame her hesitancy to go there again in such short order? But a good script won Horgan over, as did the chance to collaborate again with Kelly. (The two co-wrote the 2006–9 series Pulling, which gave Horgan a breakout role before she achieved international star status through Catastrophe, which ran for four seasons.) “He’s pretty dark, but when I read it and saw it wasn’t pure darkness—there was this sort of hope in it—that’s what drew me to it,” says Horgan.
As the film begins, Horgan’s and McAvoy’s characters are so venomous toward one another that watching them bicker is almost kind of fun. There were no such blowups happening at Horgan’s home, however; when lockdown began, she had recently separated from her husband, the producer Jeremy Rainbird. The couple’s two teenage daughters shuffled back and forth, which gave everyone a bit of a break. But, still, Horgan says, it was “a weird twilight zone, just wandering around in a dressing gown with a gin for two months.”
Accurately, in Together, elementary-school-age Artie is always lingering in the background, witness to all sorts of mommy-daddy wickedness. Those memories will probably be a hallmark of an entire generation; Horgan’s daughters saw it, too. “There was crying on the floors of bathrooms witnessed,” she admits.
While Together is a twisted, quasi-romantic comedy, it is intended to be both entertainment and artifact. It was filmed in 10 days under lockdown conditions with a skeleton crew so that it could be released to the public as soon as possible, while the issues presented by the pandemic still seem urgent.
Even though Together’s focus is myopic by design, Horgan’s and McAvoy’s characters struggle to achieve some sort of a fragile peace against the backdrop of a much more devastating conflict. “It felt really important to mark it, and to mark it now,” says Horgan. “I know people who watched family members die on FaceTime … They’ve got questions.” To Together’s credit, it doesn’t even try to answer them.
Together is in theaters now
Ashley Baker is the Style Editor for Air Mail