An MA-rated rom-com set in Sydney? As the author of Four Night Stand, also a spicy rom-com set in Sydney, I had to go see it. And it was totally worth it.
I was surprised by how many similarities there were between Four Night Stand and Anyone But You (more on that later!), because the premises are pretty different.
Four Night Stand is a steamy workplace romance about colleagues who attend a publishing conference together and decide to have a conference fling. They’ve both been burned by past relationships and this is meant to be a ‘safe’ option. (Yeah, good luck with that, Jules and Cameron.)
Anyone But You is an enemies-to-lovers, fake dating story that takes places in the lead-up to a wedding where a group of family and friends are staying in the same beach house. It’s loosely based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Sydney Sweeney’s and Glen Powell’s characters, Bea and Ben, hate each other (there’s some bad history after a one-night thing two years ago). Whenever they’re together, they’re at each other’s throats. So some of the family hatch a plan to push them together (in the biblical sense) so they’ll be distracted and won’t ruin the entire wedding. Bea and Ben realise they’re being manipulated but decide to fake date anyway because both of their exes are staying in the house, too. Cue Ben trying to make his ex jealous, and Bea trying to get her parents to stop guilting her into re-partnering with her ex.
The comedy in this movie is spot on. Honourable mention to the plane ride, but, really, the entire bushwalk scene is hilarious, especially the incident with the spider that somehow results in Ben removing all of his clothes.
The emotional vulnerability scene was very swoon-worthy. Every good rom-com needs one of these—that scene where the characters drop their walls a little and share some intimate truths. In Anyone But You, it happened on a buoy in the middle of the ocean with the Sydney Opera House in the background. Iconic.
There is a dance montage to Natasha Bedingfield’s song Unwritten! It was so good—very classic rom-com vibes. The song had popped up a few times throughout the film and I’m sure most of us know almost all of the words to it from when it was big back in the day.
The casual diversity of the cast is wonderful to see in a Hollywood rom-com. The wedding is between two women (Bea’s sister and Ben’s friend), one of whom is biracial, and you could tell they took care when casting the extras as well.
The relationship between Bryan Brown and GaTa’s characters (the stepfather and brother of one of the brides) is totally charming.
Ben shouting ‘I’m not hot girl fit!’
The Aussie slang. I love that they try, but they never know when to draw the line. I heard phrases I’ve never heard in my life. I mean, who is using ‘drongo’ still? (Apologies to those who still are.)
The meet-cute. This is being nitpicky, but, honestly, their chemistry was so much more believable when they’re in the ‘hating’ part of the relationship, than the backstory meet-cute set-up. Sorry, Sydney and Glen!
Bea’s relationship with her parents. This is meant to be a bad relationship at the start, but it was pretty uncomfortable watching her be belittled and dismissed by her parents, who have forced her into studying law and are trying to force her back together with her ex. They come good at the end, but it’s a little movie-magic-hand-wavey as opposed to actually earned.
Things that make no sense
A few things felt shoehorned in for the narrative and weren’t explored to the depths they could have been (and that you’d maybe get in a book), especially in terms of Ben’s character arc. His relationship with his ex and the story of his mother were the main two I’d love to have seen given more screen time.
I think Bea had a more solid reason for hating Ben than he did for hating her. But then you get swept up in the bickering and it doesn’t really matter.
The mode of transport for the grand gesture. I get it, but also … really?
Ben has an ATM with a padlocked chain around it in his apartment and we never find out why?!
Things that Anyone But You and Four Night Stand have in common
They’re both set in Sydney. Granted, Anyone But You is more of a ‘beach house’ vibe than Four Night Stand’s ‘hotel in the CBD’. But the Sydney Opera House does feature in a key scene in both.
Meddling friends and family members. They’re a little more hands-on with their meddling in Anyone But You, but the characters in Four Night Stand aren’t afraid to share their opinions either.
In both, the female character (Bea in Anyone But You, and Jules in Four Night Stand) has a sub-plot that centres around her career and what she wants to be doing with her life.
There’s an ex-partner around to throw a spanner in the works. Two, in the case of Anyone But You. Though the way they impact the main characters is different, since in Four Night Stand it’s less a case of Cameron wanting to get back with his ex, and more one of him needing closure.
Music. I wasn’t expecting this to be on the list, but in an important moment of emotional vulnerability in Four Night Stand and Anyone But You, she uses music to help him through it (and that’s the song that comes back in the dance montage!).
Something very specific they both have in common: She wears a blue dress that makes him lose his mind. (That happens twice in Four Night Stand.) And a couple more things: His best friend helps him pull his head out of the sand and realise his feelings; people running scared from their own feelings; shower sex.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Georgia Moore
Georgia Moore is an author of steamy contemporary romance. Her stories feature competent heroines who are still figuring out what they want from life, and heroes who’ve got emotional baggage to unpack.
When not consuming copious amounts of pop culture (mostly romance novels), Georgia can be found singing in a choir, eating an endless amount of carbs, or being overly competitive at board games and trivia.
Love a flirty rom-com? Don’t miss Four Night Stand
Two colleagues. One conference. No strings attached?
Two people who’ve been burned by past lovers settle for a conference fling while secretly wanting more.
Jules lives in her comfort zone. Years ago, taking a risk left her dumped and heartbroken, and now the status quo is her safe space. It’s not so bad. She lives with two awesome friends, has a manageable crush on Cameron, a colleague she’s never met in person, and her job … well, she used to love her IT job at a publishing company. Now it feels like ticking a box. So when she’s asked at the last minute to attend a conference, she figures it could be the thing she needs to reinspire her. And then she finds out Cameron is coming too.
Cameron left his last workplace abruptly after a break-up gone wrong. In a new city and a new team, he’s content to keep everyone at arm’s length so there’s no chance of the past repeating. Except for one person in the IT department who always answers his calls for help, and shares his humour and taste in music. But they’ve never met face-to-face, so it doesn’t count. Until they get sent to a conference together and suddenly, Cameron realises it does count. A lot.
Thrown together away from the office and their colleagues, Jules and Cameron decide to have a conference fling. It’s risk-free and has a guaranteed amicable ending. But emotions are never predictable …
‘Four Night Stand is a great read – flirtatious fun becoming hot and spicy and layered with deep, emotional vulnerability.’ – USA Today bestselling author Alyssa J. Montgomery