Review: ‘Someone Like You’ (2024), starring Sarah Fisher, Jake Allyn, Robyn Lively, Bart Johnson, Scott Reeves and Lynn Collins

April 6, 2024

by Carla Hay

Jake Allyn and Sarah Fisher in “Someone Like You” (Photo courtesy of Fathom Events)

“Someone Like You” (2024)

Directed by Tyler Russell

Culture Representation: Taking place in Alabama and in Tennessee, the dramatic film “Someone Like You” (based on the novel by Karen Kingsbury) features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: An architect, who was in love with his former high school classmate, finds out after she dies that she has a long-lost twin sister, and they fall in love with each other, even though the twin has a boyfriend. 

Culture Audience: “Someone Like You” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the novel and faith-based movies that take an overly simplistic approach to adult love stories.

Jake Allyn and Sarah Fisher in “Someone Like You” (Photo courtesy of Fathom Events)

“Someone Like You” is a cloying and boring drama where some creepy actions from a lovelorn suitor are glossed over in unrealistic ways. It’s also a faith-based movie that treats a love triangle like a sappy teen romance novel without adult maturity. In addition, “Someone Like You” has some questionable ways in which the movie depicts complicated issues of how families are affected by adoption and in vitro fertilization.

Written and directed by Tyler Russell, “Someone Like You” is based on the 2020 novel of the same name, written by Karen Kingsbury. Some of the details in the movie have been changed from the novel, such as the U.S. states where the story takes place. But the overall plot is the same. Because the entire plot of the movie is revealed in the movie’s trailer, there’s no suspense over who will fall in love and end up as a couple in the story.

“Someone Like You” begins in Birmingham, Alabama, by showing a successful architect named Dawson Gage (played by Jake Allyn), who is in his mid-20s and frustrated because the woman he considers to be the love of his life does not want a romantic relationship with him. Dawson is in love with his female best friend from high school: London Quinn (played by Sarah Fisher), an aspiring actress/dancer, who knows that Dawson is in love with her, but she just wants to have a platonic friendship with him. (In the “Someone Like You” book, Dawson and London live in Portland, Oregon.)

How successful of an architect is Dawson? He has already designed and built several homes (including the house where London and her family live) and at least one public leisure area in a park. London works as a barista at a cafe owned by her mother Louise Quinn (played by Lynn Collins), who has had kidney problems for years and needs a kidney transplant. London’s best friend at work is barista Hanna Smith (played by Lindsay Ross Davenport), who is married to Chris Smith (played by Brandon Hirsch), who is Dawson’s architect best friend at Dawson’s job. How convenient.

Dawson and London are compatible in a lot of ways: They both love adventurous sports, and they spend a lot of their free time at a local lake, where they often go jet skiing together. But there’s one thing that Dawson and London don’t agree on: religion. London (who was raised as an only child in a non-religious household) is agnostic and doesn’t believe in praying. Dawson is a very religious Christian who regularly prays and attends church services.

One night, Dawson and London are hanging out together and are about to go somewhere to have a meal. Dawson is driving and parks on a street where he has to put payment in a parking meter. As he’s using the meter, London is standing outside the car in the street when she gets hit by a car. The movie doesn’t show the gruesome details, but the scene with London dying on the street is unrealistic because in real life, she would have injuries that are a lot worse than what’s shown in the movie, based on the impact of the crash and how far away she was thrown from Dawson’s car.

London is taken to a hospital but tragically does not survive. She died without knowing a big family secret: London was conceived by in vitro fertilization and has a twin who was given up for adoption when the twin was a fertilized embryo. It’s a detail that’s different from the “Someone Like You” book, which had London’s parents telling her this secret before she died, and London gave permission to find this long-lost twin.

In the movie, London’s father Larry (played by Scott Reeves) and London’s mother Louise are not only grieving over London’s death but they also feel extremely guilty for not telling London this family secret. London also grew up thinking that she was conceived naturally. Dawson’s parents are deceased, so the Quinns have been like a second family to him. One day, Dawson visits the Quinn household to check in on Larry and Louise and to walk the family Laborador Retriever named Toby. London’s parents then confess this family secret to Dawson.

Louise and Larry explain to Dawson that because of Louise’s kidney condition, she could only carry one child at a time, and Louise nearly died giving birth to London. And so, Louise and Larry made the decision to donate the other embryo to an infertile couple and chose not to find out what happened to the embryo. But now, with London dead, both parents have conflicting feelings about finding their other biological child.

Dawson thinks London would have wanted to find out what happened to her twin. Louise agrees, and she wants to know too. At this point, London’s parents don’t know the gender of the embryo.

However, Larry strongly disagrees about finding out what happened to the embryo. Larry thinks that if London’s twin is alive, this sibling and the adoptive family deserve to have privacy about this matter. Larry, by the way, doesn’t do much in this movie but mope around and occasionally sing a corny song while playing an acoustic guitar.

Lovesick and grieving Dawson can’t let go of the idea that London’s twin is somewhere and deserves to know about London. And so, with Louise’s blessing (and knowing that Larry would not approve), Dawson does an investigation to find out what happened to the embryo. The “investigation” doesn’t take long in the movie.

Louise gives Dawson the name of the doctor who handled her in vitro treatments. Through a phone call to this doctor’s office, Dawson finds out that this doctor referred patients to two fertility specialist doctors, who also happen to be a married couple: Dr. Jenny Allen (played by Robyn Lively) and Dr. Jim Allen (played by Bart Johnson), who both live in Nashville, Tennessee. (“Someone Like You” was filmed in Tennessee and Alabama.)

A quick Internet search leads to Dawson seeing a family photo of this couple with their two daughters: Andi Allen (also played by Fisher) and Amy Allen (played by Mary Marguerite Hall), who’s about three or four years younger than Andi. They all live in the same household. (In the book, the Andi character is named Maddie West, and she lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.)

Andi looks exactly like London, except London had blonde hair, while Andi’s hair is light brown. Dawson knows he’s found London’s twin. And quicker than you can say “cringeworthy plot development in a hokey romance movie,” Dawson is off to Nashville to find Andi.

Before Dawson comes into Andi’s life, the movie shows Andi has recently celebrated her 24th birthday. On every birthday, her mother Jenny has a tradition of telling Andi the story of how Andi was born. Although Jenny really did give birth to Andi, what Jenny and Jim have kept a secret from Andi is that Andi was conceived in vitro and is not their biological child. However, Amy is the biological child of Jenny and Jim.

Andi celebrates her birthday with a small party at her home. Also at the party is Andi’s boyfriend Matt Bryan (played by Austin Robert Russell), a young lawyer who plans to propose marriage soon to Andi. At the party, Matt shows Jim the engagement ring and ask Jim for his blessing in Matt’s marriage proposal to Andi. Jim enthusiastically approves because he thinks Matt is a great guy and a perfect match for Andi.

It doesn’t take long for Dawson to find Andi in person. Dawson discovers that she works as a guide at the Nashville Zoo. Dawson goes to the zoo and pretends to be a sketching artist sitting at the same bench for hours, as he stares at Andi while she works. Andi notices this stranger gawking at her like a stalker and tries to ignore him.

Dawson eventually approaches Andi and tells her why he’s been staring at her and why he’s there. Dawson tells Andi about London and says that he’s certain Andi is London’s long-lost in vitro twin. Dawson assumes that Andi knows that she’s adopted. But Andi doesn’t believe Dawson and says he must have her mistaken for someone else. Dawson gives her his business card (which has his cell phone number), in case Andi changes her mind and wants to contact him. And you already know that she will.

When Andi goes home and tells her mother Jenny about this stranger with this bizarre story, Jenny breaks down and confesses the family secret, which is also confirmed by Jim. They both tearfully say to Andi that they wanted to tell her the truth about where she came from since she was 12 years old. They also assure her that they have always thought of Andi as their real daughter. Andi angrily says that they should’ve told her the truth as soon as she was old enough to understand adoption.

Andi is so upset, she grabs her some of her things and leaves. She says goodbye to Amy but doesn’t say goodbye to her parents. Andi also doesn’t tell her family where she’s going and when she’s coming back. At first, she stays at a motel. But then, when Andi makes the inevitable phone call to Dawson, he invites her to go to Alabama to meet Louise and Larry. Dawson doesn’t seem to care too much about how Jenny and Jim feel and is more concerned about giving Andi an in-person history of her dead sister London.

The rest of “Someone Like You” is a mawkish slog of Dawson giving Andi a tour of London’s life and falling in love with Andi, even when he knows that she has a boyfriend and a life of her own in Nashville. Louise invites Andi over to the Quinn family home, where Andi gets more overload of information and tearful memories about London. Larry is uncomfortable at first with the circumstances that brought Andi into his home, but he eventually warms up to Andi, especially when someone (preferably a biological family member) is needed to donate a kidney for Louise’s kidney transplant.

It should come as no surprise that Louise invites Andi to temporarily live with her and Larry until Andi is ready to decide what to do about her relationship with her adoptive parents. Even though Dawson constantly compares Andi to London in his conversations with Andi, he later says to Andi that he started to think of Andi as her own person, not as an extension of London. This revelation conveniently comes around the same time that Dawson finds out that Andi is just as religious as he is. Somehow, this insipid movie wants to convince viewers that Dawson’s creepy confession of finally seeing Andi as her own person is supposed to be a flattering way to get someone to fall in love.

And what about Matt, Andi’s loyal boyfriend back in Nashville? The movie quickly resolves that issue in a way that’s very dismissive of the loving and respectful relationship that the movie depicted Andi and Matt as having in the beginning of the film. If Andi can fall in and out of love this easily, what does that say about her and her quickie romance with Dawson?

But a “fairy tale” love story cannot be stopped in a mushy movie such as “Someone Like You.” And how many jet skiing couple scenes does this movie have, in order to pound the idea into viewers’ heads that jet skiing is Dawson’s way of trying to seduce a love interest in a movie where there’s no sex? The answer: Too many.

Most of the acting performances in “Someone Like You” are very mediocre. Allyn is very stiff as Dawson and is never convincing as the passionate charmer that Dawson is supposed to be. As the characters of Andi and London, Fisher is just doing a forgettable version of generic heroines in romance novels.

Most of the supporting characters in “Someone Like You” are very hollow or downright unnecessary. There is a very weirdly written character named Beth (played by Yvonne Landry), who is Andi’s co-worker at the Nashville Zoo. Beth is hyper, talkative and very anti-marriage. When Beth first meets Andi, she praises Andi for not having a wedding ring or engagement ring. “Marriage is for the birds,” Beth says, before commenting that eagles have the same mates for life.

When Beth (who tells annoying bad jokes) finds out that Andi is in a serious relationship with a marriage-minded boyfriend (Matt), Beth expresses her disappointment. In other words, Beth is written as a radical feminist and is coded as possibly being a lesbian or queer woman, based on how Beth subtly flirts with Andi. There is absolutely no reason for this Beth character to be in the movie but to depict someone who doesn’t believe in marriage as being someone who is odd and possibly mentally off-kilter. It plays into offensive stereotypes that are often inaccurate.

Dawson is grieving over London, but he falls in love so quickly with Andi, it come across as infatuation with London’s look-alike, despite Dawson denying it. There’s no rule in life that says people need a timetable on when to move on from a dead “soul mate” to find love with another “soul mate.” However, there is a limit to the emotional credibility in “Someone Like You.” And there’s an expiration on how much viewers can tolerate all of the movie’s overly sentimental cheesiness, which quickly becomes stale and unappealing.

Fathom Events released “Someone Like You” in U.S. cinemas for a limited engagement from April 2 to April 11, 2024.

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