The world is still in the grips of a pandemic, and of course, and films are reflecting that. Premiering at the 2021’a SXSW virtual film festival, The End of Us is a slice-of-life, and that’s a good thing. Written and directed by both Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner, the film stars Ben Coleman, Ali Vingiano, Derrick DeBlasis, Gadiel Del Orbe, and Kate Peterman and is produced by Buzzfeed Studios.
The film picks up with a break-up. Leah (Ali Vingiano) and Nick (Ben Coleman) call it quits, and then the pandemic hits. But with nowhere else to go, the two exes must continue living together when California issues its stay-at-home order for COVID-19. It really is that simple of a film. And because of its premise and being shot mostly in one location, there is a banality to the pandemic life it showcases.
For viewers who have been stuck at home, and you know, and attending SXSW virtually, the slow realization of how life changes is apparent in the film. It’s not shocking or absurd. It’s all just small things that we all experienced. Adjusting to the protocols, bad internet ruining therapy sessions online, work freezes, doomscrolling COVID updates, waiting for the “stimmy” to hit your bank account, and all of it. The End of Us is as much a window into the world we’re living in now.
Without sensationalizing the pandemic, The End of Us uses its leads to tell a human story. The film is about how Leah and Nick struggle to set boundaries and somehow move on from each other while also being stuck together. They’re petty towards each other, changing passwords and hiding things. They’re not understanding. But even beyond that, they have to deal with the anxiety around COVID itself.
In one of the most relatable scenes, Leah falls into an anxiety spiral of coffee, energy bars, and checking COVID death numbers. She obsesses over the smallest things, making herself sick and then stressing that sickness is actually COVID. To ground her, Nick steps up and takes her out to a park. It’s here where we get a larger conversation about how people cope with change. For them, it’s finally accepting the way things are now: the lockdown and their changed relationship.
The End of Us is both uncomfortable to watch and comforting. It’s a glimpse into a relationship about two people trying to get by and not knowing how. It looks at stress, anxiety and captures a moment that we all had to experience. In fact, The End of Us feels more like a collective memory than an artistic endeavor. And while the subject matter definitely pushes this, Coleman and Vingiano in the lead roles are why the film succeeds.
Leah and Nick have a chemistry that feels real. It feels authentic when they get along, when they fight, and when they get jealous. Beyond that, though, they’re each great on their own too. They have their own hang-ups and experiences processing what’s going on around them. There is a heart in their performances that feels like I’m watching people I know. And in the film’s final act, The End of Us, shows COVID tests and puts the pair through an emotional ringer when trust is broken not just from a relationship perspective but from a safety one as well.
Overall, The End of Us is a great film. It’s one with small hiccups in pacing, but overall, it’s a slice of life that offers comedy and heart. It’s a film that captures pandemic life without sensationalizing it and somehow offers a cathartic experience to boot.
The End of Us was screened at the SXSW Film Festival 2021.
The End of Us
- Rating - 8/108/10
The End of Us is a great film. It’s one that has small hiccups in way of pacing, but overall, it’s a slice of life that offers comedy and heart. It’s a film that captures pandemic life without sensationalizing it and somehow offers a cathartic experience to boot.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.