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What is Anyone But You about?
Anyone But You joins the likes of She’s the Man and 10 Things I Hate About You as modern retellings of classic Shakespeare comedies. This time it’s Much Ado About Nothing. The present day lens turns Benedick from a soldier into a “f*** boy” investment banker and Beatrice into a portrait of mid-20s “what do I want to do with my life” anxiety. Themes include letting go of the past in order to better see the present, being able to fix things that have broken, and the pros and cons of deception.
Movie Guide table of contents
- Bea – Sydney Sweeney
- Ben – Glen Powell
- Claudia – Alexandra Shipp
- Halle – Hadley Robinson
- Pete – GaTa
- Carol – Michelle Hurd
- Leo – Dermot Mulroney
- Jonathan – Darren Barnet
- Roger – Bryan Brown
- Innie – Rachel Griffiths
- Margaret – Charlee Fraser
- Beau – Joe Davidson
- Klonopin – Maple
- Based on – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
- Written by – Ilana Wolpert | Will Gluck
- Directed by – Will Gluck
The ending of Anyone But You explained
The end of Anyone But You begins at the wedding reception for Claudia and Halle. Despite the progress between Bea and Ben, they’ve once again fallen out over a miscommunication. This time, it’s because Ben let slip to Pete that Bea had dropped out of law school and Pete immediately texted everyone about it. They put aside differences long enough for the ceremony to conclude. That brings us to the reception.
Bea and her parents clear the air. They tell her they only want the best for her but will do better to support her. The major hang ups in her life were her relationship with Jonathan, law school, and inability to communicate with her parents. At this point in the film, she’s ended things with Jonathan, dropped out of law school, and finally confronted her parents. Having found closure with her past, she can look to the future. Which is Ben.
Ben isn’t quite on the same level, yet. His past hang up is Margaret. The two had dated. He had fallen in love. She left. Which is why Ben was so mean about Bea “ditching” him the morning after that first night together—it reminded him of Margaret and the pain he felt. Not only Margaret, but the loss of his mom, too. The more he let himself care, the more he opened himself up to hurt.
So when Margaret comes up to Ben at the reception and puts it out there that she made a mistake and wants to date him, it’s everything he had wanted. But it also presents a fork in the road and he realizes that choosing a path with Margaret means losing Bea. That gives him the closure he needs to, like Bea, move on and look ahead.
Except Bea’s already left the reception and gone to the Sydney Opera House to people-watch. Ben puts two and two together and picks the most insane way to reach her—jumping into the ocean to summon a rescue helicopter that he gets to take him to the Opera House. There, he declares his love for Bea. They share a picture-perfect Hollywood kiss. Then return to the reception.
At the reception, Claudia and Halle explain they faked a fight to convince Ben and Bea to make up after the whole “you told about law school” breakdown. In a pleasing twist, we get a shot of Margaret and Jonathan kissing.
Bea and Ben had a marvelous first day together. It was like they were in their own bubble together. But the next morning, the bubble burst. Bea let her misgivings get the best of her, so she left the apartment. And Ben, still reeling from Margaret’s departure, said things about Bea he didn’t mean. We see the best version of the two followed by who they are when their insecurities get the best of them.
The rest of the movie is designed to have Bea and Ben confront their insecurities in order to get back to that “best version” we saw on the first day.
We see the way that lies and make-believe give the two an excuse to move past their insecurities and “pretend” to be better. Which leads to actually being better. Surprisingly, that’s a real thing.
In an article for Psychology Today, cognitive behaviorist Daniel Fryer, notes that: your mood can be altered by your psychology or even your behavior… This means if you force a smile when you are feeling down, you will lift your mood, and alternatively, if you frown when you are happy, you will feel down. Your mind actively monitors your behavior to determine your mood. And so, if you are feeling sad, but you force a smile, your mind will conclude that you can’t be that sad after all and will order the release of more happy hormones. The philosopher William James was one of the first people to cotton on to this little quirk. In fact, it was he who said, “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.”
So the charade Bea and Ben go through, acting as if they were in love, acting as if they had moved on from the things that had been haunting them, actually causes them to be able to move on from those things and reconnect. Even though they stumble a bit along the way, it’s the experience with Bea that allows Ben to realize that he wasn’t longing for Margaret so much as what she had represented—a loving relationship with someone amazing. Likewise, Bea’s time with Ben allowed her to stop beating herself up over law school and Jonathan and be back in the moment in a positive way.
The themes and meaning of Anyone But You
No matter how broke it is, there’s a way to fix it
We don’t learn that much about Ben’s mom. Only that she gave him a giant display wrench to drive home a point—no matter how broken something is, there’s a way to fix it.
That’s what we see with Bea and Ben. Their first day together is perfect. Then they each make a bad decision that causes their budding romance to break. When they arrive in Australia, they’re firmly in the “broken” phase. But we watch as they slowly find a way to fix their connection and wind up back where they started—head over heels for one another.
The pros and cons of deception
Anyone But You is full of deception. The meet-cute between Bea and Ben is the first instance. Bea wants to use the bathroom of a coffee shop. They tell her customers only. Except the line is extremely long. Bea seems out of luck, until Ben pretends to be her husband. He orders for them, pays, and Bea now has bathroom privileges.
That’s a positive example of deception and make-believe. Negative examples exist, though. Like when Pete asks Ben about Bea. Ben doesn’t tell Pete about how wonderful it was. Because he’s upset she left and doesn’t want to feel hurt, he lies and says he couldn’t get her out of there quick enough and that she’s a disaster. If Ben had just been honest and said “She was incredible. I was so happy. But I woke up and she was gone, which really sucks” then everything probably goes better for him. Pete could have offered support. Bea would have overheard that and who knows where they’d be.
Another negative example is Bea’s parents flying Jonathan out without telling Jonathan or Bea. They think they’re helping get the two of them back together. But it actually is more of a betrayal of trust than anything. Another instance of them interfering with Bea and incredibly unfair to Jonathan.
The big deception is Bea and Ben pretending they’re in love. It becomes a “fake it till you make it” situation. The fantasy of being in a relationship allows them a taste of what it would be like to actually be in a relationship, calling back to that first date six months earlier. Sometimes a little role-play can go a long way. Tell someone who struggles with confidence to act like someone with confidence, and they probably gain some confidence. Role-play is actually an important part of cognitive therapy.
Why is the movie called Anyone But You?
The basis of the film is the contentious relationship between Bea and Ben. So you need something that embodies that conflict while also conveying “rom com” energy.
“Anyone” summons broad notions of all possible people. It’s open. Receptive. It pulls you in. Then immediately pushes you away with the “But You”. So the phrase carries with it a sense of dynamic energy that mimics the push-pull at the core of the story.
You also get the movement from a large pool of people to a singular person. That captures the romantic aspect.
My totally baseless pet theory is that they also wanted something that made a nod toward the movie being based on the Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Much ado. Anyone but you. Again, totally baseless pet theory. But I feel like there’s a 99% chance that someone—a producer, Illana Wolpert herself, someone on the marketing team, in the cast, Sydney Sweeney—at some point in the process pointed out the rhyme and said it’s perfect because of that.
Important motifs in Anyone But You
“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield
A recurring joke in Anyone But You is Ben’s use of “Unwritten” as his serenity song. And him saying “How do you know my serenity song?”
We first hear the song when Ben’s asleep on the plane and Bea tries to steal the cookie but ends up with her shirt caught and has to gymnastics her way out of it like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. With her face close to Ben’s, she catches “Unwritten” playing from his headphones and responds with “What the f***?”
The second time is when the helicopter rescues the two from Sydney Harbour. They have to get into a double harness that reels them like a pair of fish up to the chopper. Ben freaks out because he’s scared of flying. He explains how he “builds a bubble”. Bea realizes that unwritten was part of that bubble. So she begins to sing it. He sings with her. And things end up okay. It’s dumb but it shows her looking out for him and becomes a moment they share together.
But the lyrics also have relevance to the story. The relationship between Bea and Ben seemed like a closed book. But this wedding re-opened it and allowed them to start a whole new blank page. Also, both Ben and Bea have been dealing with emotional fallout—Ben from Margaret and Bea with figuring out what to do in life. The positive message of the song is “We’ve been condition to not make mistakes/But I can’t live that way” and how people need to “Open up the dirty window/Let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find/Reaching for something in the distance/So close you can almost taste it/Release your inhibitions”.
There’s something to that idea of letting the past go and moving forward with your life. Being true to yourself rather than ruled by fear. Which is exactly what Bea and Ben both figure out how to do.
The Sydney Opera House
Bea tells Ben she wants to go to the Sydney Opera House not to see the Opera House itself. “It’s dumb, but I want to see the people. Landmarks like those are full of people in love. Marriage proposals. Honeymooners. Romantics jumping off of moving trains just to see the building with the person they love.”
Because of that speech, the Opera House takes on this extra symbolic meaning of being a place you go with the person you love. When Bea first gets there, the camera lingers on multiple couples who are clearly in love. This adds to the moment and power of Ben’s arrival and the mega kiss he and Bea share at the Opera House.
Questions & answers about Anyone But You
Why did Bea sneak out?
As she explains when the two hang out on the buoy in Sydney Harbour, “You scared the shit out of me. It was the first time I felt fire and had to blow it out.” In other words, she realized that she really liked Ben and that they could have an actual meaningful relationship but that was way too much for her to handle at the time. Especially with feeling so conflicted over law school and Jonathan. So she ran away.
What was the dog’s name?
Klonopin. It’s a benzodiazepine that helps with epilepsy and panic attacks. It has a calming effect. Despite being prescription-only, it’s become popular recreationally. Which is problematic because it is addictive. If you listen to hip hop, you’ve probably heard it mentioned in songs. So Klonopin has entered the pop culture zeitgeist enough to be used in a moment of surprise humor like this.
Why were Bea and Ben at the wedding?
Bea’s sister was marrying Pete’s sister. And Pete and Ben grew up together and were best friends, so he was super close with Claudia as well.
Why was Ben in the wedding party?
This is probably one of those “You shouldn’t think too hard about it” moments. You’d imagine that Claudia had other friends that could be in the wedding party. Not only that, Ben’s standing closer to her during the ceremony than her own brother. They probably could have done more to justify his being essentially the best man. But for plot reasons—he’s the one up there.
Did they replace the wedding cake?
They used the wedding cake! During the reception, there’s a shot of it. It’s fugly. But kind of charming all the same.
Where was the wedding?
Near Bondi Beach. Along the cliff walk between Coogee and Bondi. Specifically, a place called Marks Park.
Why did the helicopter take Ben to the Opera House?
It was probably being flown by hopeless romantics. Australians are also pretty friendly.
Are there sharks in Sydney Harbour?
100%. Great Whites to a lesser extent. But Bull Sharks for sure. As someone who lived in Sydney for a year, the rule is you don’t swim at dawn or dusk because that’s when they feed.
How does Anyone But You differ from Much Ado About Nothing?
The key similarities are the main couple, Benedick and Beatrice, not liking each other at the beginning but others successfully deceive them into thinking each loves the other. Anyone But You uses the big scene where Benedick and Beatrice each “accidentally overhears” how much the other character loves them. But there’s a whole subplot where this guy, Don John, attempts to wreck the wedding by convincing the groom, Claudio, that the bride, Hero, had been unfaithful. A lot of drama ensues from that.Anyone But You avoided that part of the source material.
What was the story behind the ATM in Ben’s apartment?
We’re never told! Maybe in a sequel.
Is it Anyone but You or Anyone But You?
Technically it should be Anyone but You. You almost always lower case a conjunction in a title. Same with articles and prepositions. That’s what it’s The Bird and the Heron rather than The Bird And The Heron.
But, in this case, the film is officially Anyone But You. So it’s not “proper” but it’s no different than 500 Days of Summer stylizing itself as (500) Days of Summer. Or Seven being Se7en. You can go with the correct version of whatever is colloquially used. But the official title is Anyone But You.
What was that spider?
Australia has these insane spiders called Huntsman. They’re huge. When I lived in Sydney, I rented a room from this Aussie guy. We had a Huntsman once and I called him freaked out. His response was “Aw, mate, it’s been in our place for over a week. You just noticed it? It’s pretty chill. No worries.” When he came home, he used a broom to move it down the wall then caught it in Tupperware and put it outside. So my experience is that travelers freak out more about Huntsman, like we see in the movie, than Australians do.
Their bites aren’t particularly bad or anything. So it’s not as serious as having a black widow or brown recluse in your place. They’re just startlingly large.
What is hot girl fit?
When Ben struggles to swim out to the boat, Bea calls him “hot girl fit”, an accusation he vigorously rejects. What is hot girl fit? It means you have all the aesthetics of someone who is in athletic shape but without any of the actual strength or endurance. Form but no function.
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about Anyone But You? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!