Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

March 28, 2010

"Breaking Upwards": A movie about negotiating a poly arrangement

New York Times

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.


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Anonymous Anca said...

I saw it last weekend. It was pretty good, but the format was more a snapshot of this couple's life than a straight-up plot where the situation is explained a bit more.

March 28, 2010 3:07 PM  
Blogger Adam Zadeh said...

I've not seen the film, but after reading the reviews I'm not sure if this is a Poly film...or a film about how a young couple do everything wrong!

The reviews tend to think the later.

Well I'm glad to see that poly may be discussed in the film, I'm not sure if it's a "poly" movie.

That being said, it sounds like a pretty good film and has all positive reviews so far.

March 30, 2010 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the whole film felt very real except for the group of polyamorists they visit for "advice." These are self-righteous folks who don't talk about any of the challenges of polyamory.

In general we say that two great issues in poly are scheduling and communication. It seems that they are OK with scheduling but don't do well with communication.


The interesting issue, to me, is that thought the couple in the film break up in the end, the real couple who made the film and went though something similar, managed to get through it and are still (or back) together. Of course the interfering of one of the mothers makes trouble for them.

I've known the woman since she was five, though not well, and I would love to talk with her about this.

April 04, 2010 2:54 AM  

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