Directed by: #RyanMcDonald
Written by: #RyanMcDonald
If dating is taking baby steps, then marriage is a leap into the unknown. Romantic stories typically end when the couple finally say “I do”. The credits roll when Harry kisses Sally, and all of Jane Austen’s works end with happy marriages. While romance films are commonplace, stories that place married couples at the centre are not. Ryan McDonald’s feature film, Married and Loving It!, focusses on married life rather than the high of a whirlwind romance or the low of a divorce.
Married and Loving It! is a feature-length film comprised of five different chapters featuring four couples. They are all on the eve of their tenth anniversary, but it’s clear that it’s not all plain sailing. Instead of marital bliss, they are desperately treading water. Each vignette focuses on a different aspect of these couples’ lives, ranging from explosive arguments to intimate love scenes.
In films about romance and relationships, often nothing is more important than a well-written script and chemistry between the actors. A carefully put-together script can hint at the problems rippling below the surface of a happy marriage, and a glance between two actors can be wordlessly suggestive. Married and Loving It! ‘s script has all the nuance of a bowling ball ricocheting down the alley. As soon as the camera starts rolling, the couples hurl profanities at each other. By five minutes in, none of the swear words retains that necessary punch. By ten minutes, the expletives are rendered completely meaningless. Although this is an attempt to preserve realism, this script has a higher swear count than a Quentin Tarantino movie. Besides the redundant swear words, the writing fails to deliver. The first segment centres on an argument about Me Too and rape culture. While the man is contrarian and the woman borders on fanatical, this twenty-minute argument doesn’t tell you anything about their ten-year marriage. Even though this film begs to shock, it’s missing several vital components to tell a good story.
However, some chapters shine brighter than others. The husband and wife in the third segment, (Ryan McDonald and Cheryl Holdaway) work brilliantly together. The scenario is wonderfully imaginative. As they argue about who should really be doing the washing up, each of them fantasizes about violently murdering the other. This is wickedly similar to Danny DeVito’s black comedy, The War of the Roses. After the first two rather uninspiring segments, this particular segment is like a breath of fresh air. Devin Liljenquist and Cherie Julander, who play the last couple, also have a great chapter together. The wife flirts and seduces her husband, and there is a brilliant voiceover of a post-coital conversation played over an intimate scene, which felt very inspired by the sex scene in Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. Unfortunately, this film is let down by unevenness between each section.
These glimpses of greatness are few and far between. Throughout the film, it becomes evident that there will be a big twist in the final act. But when the twist does come, it isn’t ground-breaking. It’s gimmicky. This twist does little to comment on the ups and downs of marriage. In truth, this would have been a far stronger film without this conclusion, but the film is obsessed with rethinking cinema, which is ultimately its downfall.
Undoubtedly imaginative, this film falls a little flat. It does little to romance the audience or to illustrate the ups and downs of a ten-year marriage. The shock value lacks any real weight and renders itself unnecessary. Don’t be in any haste to walk down the aisle for this film.