The Spy Who Dumped Me is a super stylized action-drama that is, ultimately, all about the beauty and durability of close female friendship. There are car chases, a gymnast-model-assassin, a Cirque du Soleil fight scene. For the entire first act, Mila Kunis wears a Hawaiian shirt (gay) and Kate McKinnon wears a white tank top with black suspenders (so incredibly gay). What I’m trying to tell you is you should absolutely drop everything you’re doing and go watch The Spy Who Dumped Me right now.
Directed by Susanna Fogel (who also co-wrote the movie with David Iserson), The Spy Who Dumped Me visually feels very much like a big-budget spy movie, and its action sequences are spectacular. In the same vein as Paul Feig’s Spy, the action and the comedy interplay in fun ways, heightening each other. But way more so than most movies in this genre, the character development and relationship dynamics are so strong, dimensional, moving.
Far too often, I end up wondering why two friends in a movie are friends. It can be a surprisingly tough thing to convey through writing without making it come off as forced. But Morgan (McKinnon) and Audrey (Kunis) have a friendship that almost immediately jumps off the screen. When the titular spy tells Audrey she can’t trust anyone, she doesn’t apply that to Morgan for even a second. Trusting Morgan is an indelible given, and throughout the movie, their love for each other is really the only stable thing about their suddenly chaotic, violent lives (on that note, the movie has its fair share of gore, so if that’s not for you, be warned).
There’s a particularly standout scene amid all the chaos where Morgan and Audrey just sort of check in with each other. Morgan talks about some of her greatest insecurities about the way people perceive her — insecurities that, unbeknownst to Audrey, the spy ex had stoked on the night when he and Audrey first met (Morgan didn’t tell Audrey at the time because she didn’t want to lessen her friend’s excitement about a new crush). Morgan is afraid of being “too much,” and Audrey assures her that the qualities she’s insecure about are the exact qualities Audrey loves about her. She doesn’t love her in spite of how extra she is; she loves her because of it. The scene feels like something that belongs in an entirely different genre and yet isn’t out-of-place within this movie, which constantly centers Audrey and Morgan’s friendship in a very natural and compelling way.
Fogel, after all, seems drawn to stories about female friendship, having directed and co-written Life Partners, the movie that gave us queer Leighton Meester (and therefore ruined my life). That movie eschews a lot of assumptions about friendship between lesbians and straight women while also tapping into a lot of the really complex things that can sometimes come with intensely close friendship between lesbians and straight women. Sadly, The Spy Who Dumped Me doesn’t have any explicitly queer characters (though it doesn’t take much work to read Morgan as not-entirely-straight), but it does evoke Life Partners in its specific, dynamic portrayal of long-term best friendship between two women.
(There’s also a quick line about how Audrey is on antidepressants, and even though it is meant to be funny, it doesn’t feel like the movie is making light of that fact. It’s weirdly refreshing for it to be acknowledged that a movie character is on antidepressants without that being something that wholly defines them or serves as a plot point. It’s just sort of matter-of-fact and not a big deal.)
Another selling point: GILLIAN ANDERSON. You’ll likely feel the earth move when Gillian Anderson places her arm around Kate McKinnon in their first scene together. The woman sitting behind me audibly whispered “oh my god,” vocalizing what the rest of the theater was feeling. McKinnon’s face says it all. I’m not being dramatic when I say this is a moment for the history books. See for yourself: