"Breaking Upwards": A movie about negotiating a poly arrangement
Rare is the indie movie shot for $15,000 that earns a major, 1,700-word article in the Sunday New York Times. "Breaking Upwards," having toured the film-festival circuit to acclaim, is opening Friday in a few theaters but will be mostly available by video on demand. From today's paper:
“Breaking Upwards” is about a pair of Jewish Manhattan 20-somethings who find their relationship foundering; but rather than split up, they choose to alternate days alone and together. Emotions get complicated and feelings get hurt, of course, as they meet potential romantic partners and have to explain their arrangement to their uncomprehending parents....
The story in large part echoes the experience of [the filmmakers] Mr. Wein, 26, and Ms. Lister-Jones, 27. A couple for six years, they “started having issues,” as they put it, about two years after they met, and decided to try what their parents’ generation might term an open relationship but which they (and anthropologists) call polyamory.
“I remember that we were sitting in a coffee shop much like a scene in the film, writing on a paper tablecloth, both of us being so hyper-articulate about the goals and bounds of this experiment we were going to do,” Ms. Lister-Jones recalled. “It was definitely a sad moment, but we were also laughing at ourselves. I remember that at that moment Daryl said, ‘This would make a really funny movie.’ ”
...The couple have been promoting “Breaking Upwards” over the last year with every tool available....
Read the whole article. (It's in the print edition for March 28, 2010.)
Here's a short interview with the leading lady/filmmaker in Interview magazine. Excerpts:
After initiating an open relationship with her boyfriend, director Daryl Wein, the duo went on to write, produce, and star in “Breaking Upwards,” a film re-enacting their experiment with polyamory. Issues of intimacy and autonomy abound – no surprise from 27-year-old Lister-Jones, who garnered critical acclaim for her 2004 one-woman show, “Codependence is a Four Letter Word,” and went on to score roles in Law and Order, State of Play, and the upcoming Salt (starring Angelina Jolie)....
...LISTER-JONES: My mom’s best friends are polyamorous, and they were an inspiration for the experiment. I think that lifestyle is so interesting... and terrifying. People are human, and they have human desires and needs – and how do you deal with that? I mean, most people deal with it by cheating. So I think it’s pretty brave to say to someone: “You know, I want to sleep with someone else right now.”
The prime poly mantra bitter wisdom from countless people's schools of hard knocks is "Communicate, communicate, communicate." The couple in the movie, it seems from the trailer, started off with a Don't Ask Don't Tell agreement, a rule forbidding communication, which is pretty well guaranteed to end up creating awfulness and drama. But where would a romantic comedy be without drama?
Here's the "Breaking Upwards" site, with trailer, notes, links to numerous reviews, etc. (Here's a less flattering review not on the site.) More reviews. The movie's Facebook page.
The credits include a category for "Polyamorous Actors," apparently referring not to their relationships but to playing more than one role.
The movie is playing in some IFC theaters and is available by video on demand.