The Russo Brothers lend their backing to this internet-based relationship drama from Jay Alvarez

Something's More Than One Thing

Source: Indoor Feeling Productions

‘Something’s More Than One Thing’

Dir/scr: Jay Alvarez. US. 2023. 110mins

Lamenting how the internet poisons relationships and leaves people feeling lonely, writer/director Jay Alvarez’s second feature dissects a long-term twentysomething couple’s recent romantic struggles, which finds each going online in hopes of finding solutions. Something’s More Than One Thing is a sincere exploration of modern life, intriguingly personifying the internet through a group of actors who give literal voice to the comments, clips and social media posts that pollute our day. But despite the tender tone and novel design, this gentle drama does not have much new to say about the challenges of making love last. 

 Weighs the incalculable damage the internet has done in severing our connection to one another 

Premiering at the Raindance Film Festival, which also screened Alvarez’s debut, 2013’s iPhone-shot I Play With The Phrase Each Other, Something’s More Than One Thing may receive added attention because of Anthony and Joe Russo serving as executive producers. Gen-Z viewers may feel especially seen by the film’s depiction of unfulfilling romances and going-nowhere careers, and Alvarez deserves credit for finding a clever way to bring the internet to life. Further festival runs seem likely, followed perhaps by limited theatrical play.

As the film begins, aspiring Los Angeles director Dylan (Devan Costa) has an impulsive one-night stand and quickly confesses the indiscretion to his girlfriend, waitress Caitlin (Alex Sgambati). The revelation rocks their relationship, but they do their best to weather the storm, with Dylan occasionally leaving town to promote his latest picture at regional film festivals. Meanwhile, Caitlin goes online, seeking guidance about how to cope with the infidelity.

Alvarez illustrates how much we live on the internet by utilising different actors to look directly into the camera, all of them vocalising the interactions we usually read online. Whether it’s Dylan searching for a place to crash in the next city he’s presenting his film or Caitlin tracking down other people’s stories about cheating partners, Alvarez assaults the viewer with a cacophony of voices, which vary from shrill to flirty, despondent to friendly. Tellingly, when Dylan looks online for relationship help, he finds angrier, more defensive male voices — while Caitlin’s searches lead her to heartsick women measuring the emotional damage they’ve endured. Something’s More Than One Thing visually argues that, when we take to the web for advice, we often get lost in an echo chamber that reinforces our biases and worst fears.

Much of the film sees Dylan and Caitlin living their own lives, even though they cohabit – another potentially potent metaphor for the sense of aloneness endemic to the modern world. With Dylan trying to realise his filmmaking dreams and Caitlin attempting to eke out a living — while growing closer to sensitive coworker Remy (James Scully) — there are signs that these two have been drifting apart even before Dylan’s one-night stand. But Alvarez’s decision to keep them separate throughout much of Something’s More Than One Thing introduces an interesting tension in which we get to know each as individuals, not as a couple. On his own, Dylan seems confident, in his element among film lovers, whereas Caitlin clearly shoulders more of the emotional labour in their relationship. How much of this discord is due to the internet, and how much of it is simply the familiar trajectory of most love affairs, which devolve from passionate to disengaged?

Something’s More Than One Thing leaves that question up to the audience, and the leads believably depict a couple that has been together a while — perhaps too long. Costa plays a young man who is not always sympathetic, often thinking only of himself, and the actor creates enough space so that we note Dylan’s guilt — as well as his unfounded annoyance that Caitlin has not yet forgiven his indiscretion. This tricky performance is complemented by Sgambati’s layered turn as a woman who may be growing tired of being a support system. Remy proves a bit one-dimensional as a possible new love interest, but Scully and Sgambati have powerful chemistry, adding suspense to how this romantic saga will play out.

But even with Evyn Oliver’s affecting score — which segues from plaintive piano to mournful acoustic guitar — the film is better at concocting a melancholy mood than telling a fully compelling story. For all of Alvarez’s conceptual wrinkles, the dialogue varies from insightful to strained, and the couple’s romantic woes ultimately feel rather ordinary. Something’s More Than One Thing weighs the incalculable damage the internet has done in severing our connection to one another — something certainly worth pondering, but it’s an ambitious idea and more than this slight tale of unfaithfulness and regret can manage. 

Production company: Indoor Feeling Productions

International sales: Indoor Feeling Productions,

Producers: Jay Alvarez, Alexander Fraser, Will Hand, Megan Kopp 

Cinematography: Ray Buckley

Production design: Bacall Michaels

Editing: Ray Buckley

Music: Evyn Oliver

Main cast: Devan Costa, Alex Sgambati, James Scully, SoKo, Will Hand