Anyone But You – movie review

A formulaic and predictable rom-com both set in and shot around Sydney, Anyone But You taps into the familiar tropes of the genre without adding anything particularly fresh or original.

A meet-cute between ambivalent law student Bea (Sydney Sweeney) and stock broker Ben (Glenn Powell) in a coffee shop leads to a one-night stand, which ends in a misunderstanding. Several months later the pair cross paths again when they meet each other at a party to celebrate the engagement of Bea’s sister Halle (Hadley Robinson) to Claudia (Alexandra Shipp), who is the sister of Ben’s best friend Pete (GaTa). Her wealthy parents Innie and Leo (Rachel Griffiths and Dermot Mulroney) announce that the wedding itself will be held in Sydney and invite friends and families down under to the fabulous harbourside home of Claudia’s parents (Bryan Brown and Michelle Hurd).

Despite the obvious awkwardness between then Ben and Bea agree to try and put their differences aside so as not to ruin the nuptials. But to further complicate matters their respective exes also show up for the wedding. Bea and Ben pretend to be a couple to stop unwanted attachments forming with their exes and to make them jealous. Instead, assorted family members try to bring the couple closer together in the belief that they make for a perfect pair and that their feigned dislike actually hides their true feelings for each other.

This raunchy comedy comes from Will Gluck, better known for comedies like Easy A and Friends With Benefits, and he has a fine track record for this kind of material. The film clearly wears its 80s and 90s rom-com influences on its sleeve. The script, co-written by Gluck and TV writer Ilana Wolpert, is tonally uneven, and some scenes fall flat. But there are some places where the film grinds to a halt between set pieces as though waiting for inspiration.

Anyone But You has been loosely adapted from Shakespeare’s farce Much Ado About Nothing, and the two leads are named after the main characters from that play. And there are several Shakespearean quotes strategically placed throughout the film.

The film was shot on location in Sydney. Cinematographer Danny Ruhlmann (Little Fish) highlights some of the sights of the city – especially the beaches, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House – and makes it shine and gives the material a glossy surface.

Rising stars Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) and Sweeney (Reality) make for a cute couple, and their palpable chemistry creates a certain dynamic. And it looks as though they enjoyed playing against each other and delivering their snarky dialogue. The cast also includes veteran Bryan Brown; and Joe Davidson as Beau, a handsome but clueless surfer himbo. But many of the characters are thinly drawn and lack depth. This is the first time that Griffiths and Mulroney have appeared together since 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding and they trade on the goodwill they earned from that rom-com.

Greg King

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