Premiering April 20 at the Tribeca Film Festival, the indie rom-com In A Relationship follows four friends over one summer as their respective relationships reach opposing turning points. Scream Queens' Emma Roberts and The Knick's Michael Angarano are Hallie and Owen, a long-term couple whose relationship might be reaching its expiration date. Meanwhile, their pals Willa and Matt (Dree Hemmingway and The OA's Patrick Gibson) aren't even on the same page as to whether they're in a relationship. It's a movie that'll feel unfortunately familiar to so many people — as shown by this exclusive clip from In A Relationship, which captures the worst of dating self-delusions in under a minute.
In the clip, it becomes clear that Matt seems to be the only one out of the four friends who thinks he actually is in a real relationship. Willa, though, insists that she and Matt are just "hanging out," a term so vague it's meaningless. It's a knowing avoidance of any responsibility or attachment, while still involving someone else's emotions. Matt and Willa could have a clear discussion about what they want and how they feel that would clear everything up nicely, but that would mean being vulnerable with each other. The terms "ghosting", "breadcrumbing", and "haunting" are all different shades of the same problem Willa and Matt don't want to face — being mature when considering someone else's feelings. You can't deal with a breakup if you were never "dating" to begin with, right?
Matt also mentions offhandedly he shouldn't even be dating; he's afraid to even check his bank account. If Matt's afraid to take fiscal responsibility, how can he take personal responsibility over someone else? His conundrum is relatable to so many people struggling with adulthood and dating, as are those of In a Relationship's other characters. "I don't want to be single! I mean I do, but I don't," Halle says to Willa, implying a fear of being alone putting any other relationship issues on the back burner. Willa accuses her pal of falling for people too easily because of it — "You went straight into "we're married"?" she asks.
If Halle wants the freedom of the single life, that's OK, just like enjoying being in a committed relationship is OK. But if you're in the committed relationship to avoid being single, instead of genuinely enjoying the dynamic between you both, that's not a good reason to stay together. There's also Halle's habit of diving deep straight from the start; while intensity's always a part of new relationships, it shouldn't blind you to flaws and red flags, or have you make a mental lifetime commitment before really getting to know another person... or yourself.
In A Relationship is based on a short film of the same name by director Sam Boyd. The short starred Fifty Shades' Dakota Johnson, but also followed two couples at very different points in their relationships. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Boyd explained that all the issues expressed in just this short clip are the film's entire focus.
“The problems that arise are usually simple: we love each other but I’m me, and you’re you. It was important to me to make a film about the things that really come between young people — what they really fight about and what they’re really afraid of," said Boyd. Part of the trouble is that the young people aren't able to express or identify what it is they're really afraid of for themselves.
The film also features Insecure’s Jay Ellis and Greta Lee rounding out the friend group. Whether you're working on figuring out what you need or deciding if your partner is the person who can provide it, In A Relationship is likely to hold a mirror up to some blind spots in your own love life you might not have realized before watching.