“Anyone But You” Review: Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, and the Return of the Great American Rom-Com

Is "Everyone But You" too good to be true? Yes, but that's perfectly fine because it's been years since we've seen a classic romantic comedy this fun, light-hearted, and smart
Anyone But You (2023)


Is Anyone But You too good to be true? Yes, but that’s perfectly fine because it’s been years since we’ve seen a classic romantic comedy this fun, light-hearted, and smart (with special mention going to the leads, Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell).

Cast, characters, plot, humor (and a sensuality that’s integral to the narrative). In Will Gluck’s Anyone But You, everything clicks. And it does so because it starts with a premise that’s anything but trivial: adhere to the conventions of romantic comedy while aiming to transcend them, repackaging them into a film that blends modern love with generational conflicts, all the while exploring self-awareness (possibly) through the aid of someone else. Here, the rom-com proves that the genre, despite a deep crisis (with streaming productions diluting its essence with rather mediocre offerings), still has much to say and show, finding an audience ready to laugh heartily (rarely, during a press screening, have we seen an audience so engaged).

Without exaggeration, Will Gluck’s comedy continues the conversation started by Billy Wilder and later (under different premises) by Rob Reiner, Cameron Crowe, Nora Ephron, and P.J. Hogan, director of My Best Friend’s Wedding, to which Anyone But You is a subtle tribute (the cast revealed it was the film they rewatched before shooting). The comparison is clear, without wanting to mimic: as mentioned, Gluck’s rom-com, while staying true to the canon, is fresh because it arrives at a moment of stagnation, bursting onto the scene with such verve as to be irresistible.

Anyone But You, the plot: A wedding in Sydney!

Speaking of conventions and rules associated with American romantic comedies. Anyone But You has it all: a wedding set on the other side of the world (we’re in Australia, effectively the new Hollywood); linen shirts; two sets of well-meaning but intrusive parents; the out-of-place ex; an impromptu comic sidekick (special mention goes to rapper GaTa’s performance); love at first sight, and two protagonists who love each other without knowing it. At the heart of the screenplay written by Will Gluck and Ilana Wolpert are Bea and Ben, portrayed by Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell (extraordinary, we have no other words).

In short, Bea and Ben meet by chance and spend the night talking. She has left law school (without telling her parents), and he works for Goldman Sachs. They like each other. A misunderstanding, however, drives them apart the following morning. They find themselves, very angrily, six months later, when Bea’s sister, Halle (Hadley Robinson), is about to marry Claudia (Alexandra Ship), the sister of Pete (GaTa), Ben’s best friend. Naturally, they’re all invited to the wedding. Destination? Sydney. However, the weekend does not start well: Bea and Ben, with their constant bickering, risk ruining the wedding. The families, therefore, concoct a zany plan to reconcile them.

The Return of the Great American Rom-Com with Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell

Speaking of irresistibility. Anyone But You, with its saturated colors, vibrant landscapes, witty banter, is crafted for a wide audience, offering an hour and a half of delightful entertainment. In many ways, Will Gluck’s rom-com is a sort of gift: it relaxes us, distracts us, makes us dream. A film we deserved, in its playful reinterpretation of a genre we’ve missed. Marking the return of the great American romantic comedy, Anyone But You, at its core, connects to contemporary and, as mentioned, generational language. Here and there, the screenplay delivers charming critiques against previous generations, still stuck to certain paradigms (and unable to listen to the needs of their children), reflecting on how today, romantic relationships are endangered by a latent denial of emotions.

Interrupted emotions, or distorted by the fear of opening up (“I was scared because I was happy,” Bea tells Ben). Therefore, beneath the laughter and the humorous scenarios (from placid koalas, a nod to Titanic, to a relaxation song like “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield), Anyone But You moves the perspective forward, correctly viewing its two protagonists, scared by an emotionality that has made them late in meeting the demands of a society devoted to perfection. With a note: it must be said that Anyone But You would not have been the same without Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell; it would not have been the same film without their talent, their chemistry, their lightness. At times sweet, at times erotic, at times disheveled and vulnerable, but always bound by a wonderful sense of humor. Thus, yes, Will Gluck’s rom-com realigns the genre, revitalizing it, shoring it up properly, and aiming for a constant sense of beauty. Indeed, too beautiful to be true.

[Damiano Panattoni], January 24, 2024


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