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.

Review: ‘Held,’ starring Jill Awbrey and Bart Johnson

May 1, 2021

by Carla Hay

Jill Awbrey and Bart Johnson in “Held” (Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing)


Directed by Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the horror flick “Held” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with one person of Middle Eastern heritage) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A husband and a wife are held captive in their home by a mysterious intruder. 

Culture Audience: “Held” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching horror movies where the acting is substandard and the mystery in the film is fairly easy to figure out.

Jill Awbrey in “Held” (Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing)

“Held” is yet another horror movie about a couple with a crumbling relationship, they face unexpected terror, and the rest of the movie is about whether or not this couple (and their relationship) will survive the trauma. Unfortunately, the filmmakers of “Held” must think that viewers are as simple-minded as this movie’s mystery plot. The acting is often stiff, the pacing is frequently lackluster, and it’s not that hard to figure out who’s behind the terror that’s being inflicted.

One of the main reasons why it’s fairly easy to solve the mystery in this story is because there’s a very small number of people in the cast of “Held,” and only two people are on screen for almost the entire movie. Directed by Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff, “Held” has too many implausible things happening that are meant to bolster the flimsy plot. Once the “secret” behind the terror is revealed, it makes the movie look even more ridiculous.

In “Held,” which takes place in an unnamed U.S. city, Emma Barrett (played by Jill Awbrey, who wrote the “Held” screenplay) is a writer who’s taking a rideshare drive to the vacation home that she shares with her husband. The house is in an isolated area (of course it is), which means that no neighbors can come to the rescue or hear what’s happening when the inevitable horror begins to happen in the house.

Emma has a journal-sized book of poetry that she’s writing in while in the back passenger seat. Her rideshare driver Joe (played by Rez Kempton) is talkative and a little too nosy. When he asks Emma the reason for her trip, she mentions that she’s meeting her husband at the house for a weekend getaway. Her husband won’t be arriving until the next day.

Joe then asks Emma if she isn’t worried about being all by herself in this isolated area. And then Joe quickly says, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” But that doesn’t stop Joe from being a little more irritating when he gets to the house and he pressures Emma to give him an extra tip since the drive was out of his way.

The movie spends a little too much time in the first 20 minutes showing Emma doing mundane things, such as puttering around the kitchen or taking a shower. While she’s in the shower, she hears loud knocking on the front door. When she gets out of the shower and answers the door, no one is there, but she sees a vase of red roses on the front step, with a card that reads, “For Emma.” She assumes the flowers are from her husband.

While drinking some red wine in the kitchen, Emma accidentally spills some of the wine on the floor. When she crouches down to clean up the mess, she notices that that there’s something strange about the bottom of the kitchen counter. But before she can investigate, the phone rings.

Emma’s husband Henry (played by Bart Johnson) ends up arriving at the house shortly afterward, a day earlier than expected. He says something about how his business trip ended early. (The movie never reveals what Bart does for a living.) And it turns out that this weekend trip is for Emma and Henry (who are both in their 40s) to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary.

Emma is Henry’s second wife. His first wife Emily died, and they have a son in his 20s named Graham (played by Jener Dasilva) from this first marriage. Not long after Henry arrives, Graham calls to tell Henry the good news that Graham has gotten engaged to his girlfriend Laura. Emma and Henry both congratulate Graham, but it’s clear that Graham isn’t very close to his stepmother Emma.

Henry and Emma’s marriage seems to have hit a rough patch, because they’re not really acting like this anniversary is something that they’ve been anticipating. The passion seems to have left their marriage. And when they sleep in the same bed together, they might as well be sleeping together like platonic roommates.

Whle Emma is asleep, she has a nightmare that there was an intruder in the house, and he was wearing all black, including a black rubber mask and black gloves. When Emma wakes up, she finds out that on her nightstand are two coffee cups, a rose and a card that reads, “To have and to hold, now and always. Happy Anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Barrett.” The problem is that Emma doesn’t know how these items got there, and Henry says that he didn’t put them there.

Emma also sees that she’s wearing a white nightgown that she doesn’t own. And when Emma and Henry check their bedroom closets, they discover that their clothes have been replaced by clothes that they’ve never seen before. And then, Emma notices that her phone and car keys are missing.

Henry takes a rake and rushes into a nearby orchard to search for possible trespassers. And while he’s away, the landline phone in the house rings. Emma answers, and a man’s distorted, menacing voice shouts, “Obey us!” (“Held” co-director Cluff is the voice of the mystery man.) And now, Emma knows that someone is definitely targeting the house for some terror.

Panic sets in when Henry comes back to the house with blood on his head. He says that while he was searching in the orchard, someone ambushed him and attacked him, but Henry was able to get away. Emma tells Henry about the strange phone call. And what do you know, right at that moment, they get another phone call from the same mystery menacer.

This time, the voice on the other line has this demand: “You will not leave the house again. There are rules. You must obey us. Disobediences have consequences … We know everything you did.” And then, like a recording with a glitch, the voice repeats several times: “You must obey!”

Of course, bad horror movies like “Held” need the victim characters to acts as illogically as possible. Not once does Emma or Henry think that if someone is calling in on their landline phone, then the phone line hasn’t been cut, so they can use the phone to make outside calls. Emma and Henry don’t even try to use the landline phone to call for help.

The movie starts to go off the rails when not long after this second phone call, barriers are lowered on all windows in the house, like a garage door closing. The mystery menacer on the phone starts using the house’s intercom system to warn Emma and Henry that they are being watched at all times. When Henry touches a surveillance camera in the house to try to disconnect it, there’s a high-pitched ringing sound, and Henry gets electrocuted.

In fact, the house is so rigged with all these torture methods and gadgets to keep Emma and Henry in captivity, it will make viewers wonder who was able to get access to the house to easily set up this elaborate home invasion and kidnapping. Needless to say, if Emma or Henry try to touch any of the doors to leave, they get electrocuted and get a blast of that high-pitched ringing.

Because this is a horror movie, someone in the film is going to die. When the first person gets killed about halfway through the movie, it’s another clue about who’s behind this mayhem, because there’s really only one logical person who would have the motive to want this person killed. The movie tends to drag with repetition of the mystery menacer barking the same type of orders to Emma and Henry.

“Held” is so poorly written that there’s very little revealed about Emma’s and Henry’s backgrounds and personalities during this ordeal. Emma and Henry don’t even try to figure out who could be doing this to them and why. It’s eventually revealed in the movie who’s behind this terror, but once people figure out who would have the biggest motive to set up this elaborate crime, the suspense quickly evaporates.

The movie’s opening scene shows a young woman (played by Jana Claire Price) being kidnapped while she’s in the passenger seat of a car. And later in the story, viewers find out that this woman was Emma when she was younger. But this traumatic incident is barely explained in the movie. It just seems to be thrown into the story so viewers know that this isn’t the first time that Emma has been kidnapped.

“Held” would have been a more effective film if the acting and screenwriting weren’t of such low quality. Awbrey and Johnson are both very wooden in saying their dialogue. And then in other scenes, they overact in a way that seems very forced and unnatural. They’re supposed to be portraying a couple with a stale marriage, but they’re not very convincing. They just seem like two actors who are stuck reciting lines together instead of depicting spouses who have a bored familiarity with each other.

The movie’s direction isn’t that remarkable and uses a lot of the same tricks that have been done in a lot of other (better-made) horror movies that are about people trapped inside a house. The unfortunate dichtomy of “Held” is that its has a chief villain who meticulously thought out everything out for this kidnapping plot, but the movie’s screenplay was very poorly thought-out in how this scheme was implemented. It’s worth noting that there are no supernatural elements to this story to explain the many illogical things that happen in the movie. And ultimately, “Held” is not a description that applies to viewers’ interest when watching this shoddily made horror flick.

Magnet Releasing released “Held” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and on demand on April 9, 2021.

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