Not many want to relive last March, when most of the world as we know it came to a screeching halt. That should be strike one against “The End of Us,” a low budget rom-com about two exes who are stuck cohabitating in Los Angeles during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this look at relationships in 2020, which was one of the toughest years on record for many of us, has plenty of quirky charm and a staggering relatability for all of us who quarantined during the first stages of the pandemic.
Out of work actor Nick (Ben Coleman) and his ambitious girlfriend Leah (Ali Vingiano) see that things are working anymore and finally break up. It’s the worst timing possible, as the very next morning, their governor issues a stay-at-home order. With nowhere to go, Nick must continue living in the house the two share. It’s a difficult situation made even worse when Leah starts a relationship over Zoom with her hunky coworker, Tim (Derrick Joseph DeBlasis).
Co-writers and co-directors Steven Kanter and Henry Loevner are spot-on with their writing of a couple stressed to the max, especially when Leah and Nick become more and more annoying and passive-aggressive with each other (he hides her expensive Japanese face moisturizer, she changes the Netflix password). There’s a realism to their relationship that’s so credible, you can tell much of the dialogue and situations came from personal experience.
I guess it was inevitable that filmmakers would explore an idea like this, and the film’s timeliness can be felt. There are little things that show the project was made in hindsight because the COVID timeline isn’t quite right (who had masks 20 days in that they didn’t make themselves?), but that’s very minor nit-picking. Vingiano and Coleman are terrific as the discordant couple who still care very much about each other, and their chemistry grounds the film and keeps it interesting. This isn’t a non-stop argument type of movie (see “Marriage Story”), but one that gives hope that life (and love) does, indeed, go on.
There may not be much to the story of quarreling former lovers thrust into a maddening situation, but “The End of Us” is an authentic portrayal of a complicated relationship in even more complicated times.
By: Louisa Moore