Another month on Netflix. And here we have another stalking movie. While it may look like another Lifetime psychological thriller, We Belong Together originally aired on Black Entertainment Television (BET). Not that it really matters. From its basic plot to its production values, We Belong Together looks indistinguishable from a Lifetime or Hallmark made-for-television movie. Is there enough ‘cheese’ in this movie to make it a guilty pleasure? Or should you just re-watch Season 1 of You.
Recently divorced college professor, Thomas, returns to teaching after struggling with a drinking problem. Still reeling from the dissolution of his marriage and tragic death of his infant son, Thomas finds solace with one his young students, Tracy. For Thomas, it’s just a casual fling. But Tracy see things differently. Obsessed and volatile, Tracy begins turning Thomas’ life upside down.
We Belong Together Sticks to the Script
Probably the most puzzling thing about We Belong Together is that it took three people to write the screenplay. It’s puzzling because this thriller doesn’t contain a single original idea. If you’ve seen any stalking movie, you’ve seen We Belong Together. Fatal Attraction. The Crush. Poison Ivy, Swimfan. Bad Match. My Teacher, My Obsession. The Student. It’s not so much a movie as it is a ‘connect-the-dots’ of a stalking movie template.
We Belong Together dutifully checks off each of these plot points in turn.
Like most of the above movies, We Belong Together flips the reality of stalking, casting Thomas as the ‘victim’ and Tracy as the ‘villain’. You’ve got the young, attractive female student who goes from sexually assertive to 100mph of crazy in a heartbeat. There’s the clueless male protagonist. Next you have the ex-girlfriend or ex-wife that will inevitably be put in danger. Somewhere in the movie will be a character whose only purpose is to get killed to remind us we’re watching a thriller. At some point, the stalker will frame the protagonist for her crimes. Not surprisingly, the police will be useless. We Belong Together dutifully checks off each of these plot points in turn.
A Steamy Thriller With No Steam and No Thrills
Okay, no one who read the movie’s synopsis would be expecting anything original. But what’s surprising is just how perfunctory everything feels. Director Chris Stokes introduces each familiar story element before abruptly moving along to the next. Don’t expect much in the way of set-up or tension-building. A slow burn, this is not. Aside from We Belong Together’s lackadaisical march through the ‘hall of fame’ of stalker movie tropes, Stokes films everything with a bland style. The movie’s sex scenes don’t qualify as steamy; they would barely earn a PG-13 rating. And the climax is non-existant. Spoiler alert – Stokes just fades to black before tacking on an expository epilogue that would make Psycho blush.
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Stalking movies only work as thrillers if the male protagonist makes inexplicably stupid decisions. Despite being a college professor, Thomas takes the cake for stupid male protagonists. Nothing Thomas does is remotely sensible or ethical. Despite Charles Malik Whitfield’s game performance, Thomas is also never a sympathetic character. Similar to other stalking thrillers, We Belong Together gives its male protagonist a ‘free pass’ despite his exploitative behaviour and abuse of power. Amidst the #MeToo era, We Belong Together is a relic of a movie.
Amidst the #MeToo era, We Belong Together is a relic of a movie.
As the obsessed student, Draya Michele does fine with the obligatory material with which she’s given. Nothing about her performance will make you forget Glenn Close or even Alicia Silverstone. Yet at this point, if you’re still watching these movies, you’re not likely to care. Stokes may have forgotten the suspense and scintillating sexuality, but Draya looks like she’s having fun playing the temptuous villainess. Arguably, she’s the best thing about the movie.
We Belong Together Belongs At the Bottom of a Dollar-Store Bin
Less Fatal Attraction, more Bad Match, We Belong Together is an entirely unoriginal and dull viewing experience. Sadly, nothing about the movie permits it to achieve ‘guilty pleasure’ status. Not exploitative like Poison Ivy or over-the-top silly as The Crush, We Belong Together can’t even steam things up to the lukewarm levels of My Teacher, My Obsession. Only Draya Michele saves this Netflix movie from an F-rating.