Monogamy

 

Monogamy

Written by Dana Adam Shapiro and Evan M. Weiner

Directed by Dana Adam Shapiro

2010


Cast:

Chris Messina

Rashida Jones

Meital Dohan

Zak Orth

Ivan Martin

Neal Huf


Production:

Theatrical: Big Leo & Renart Films

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.88:1

Resolution: 480

Codec: MPEG-2

Disc Size: Dual Layer

Runtime: 108 minutes

Chapters: 19


Audio:

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Digital 2.0


Subtitles: English SDH


Extras:

• Music Video “You Don’t Know (Nat’s Song)”

• 3 Deleted Scenes (0:53 + 1:12 + 1:10)

• 3 Outtakes (2:25 + 1:50 + 0:30)

• The Screenplay in pdf

• “I Do. . . Maybe” by Amy Taubin

• “You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Married” (excerpt)

• Oscilloscope Trailers


Presentation:

Custom gatefold paper DVD case w/ slipcover

Release Date: June 14, 2011



Synopsis:

Increasingly anxious about his impending marriage to Nat (Rashida Jones) and thoroughly bored with his day job as a wedding photographer, Theo (Chris Messina) establishes a hobby: he's hired by clients to clandestinely snap voyeuristic photos of them as they go about their days. Things go smoothly until a sexy exhibitionist (Meital Dohan) leads him into an all-consuming obsession. As Theo stalks her day and night, the woman's mysterious public trysts send him reeling, forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about his sex life at home. MONOGAMY is an acutely observed portrait of a relationship on the brink, a timely tale of masculinity tested by fantasy and fear of commitment.


               


. . . and on the director, Dana Adam Shapiro:

Dana Adam Shapiro was the co-director/producer of the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary “Murderball.”  His animated short My Biodegradable Heart premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.  Other projects for Shapiro include the upcoming Screen Gems movie “Holler,” which he wrote and will be executive produced by Jennifer Aniston.  Shapiro is a former senior editor at Spin Magazine and the author of the novel “The Every Boy,” a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice that was optioned by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment.  MONOGAMY is Shapiro's first narrative feature, and is a reunion with Murderball producing partners Jeff Mandel and Randy Manis, and producer Tom Heller.


               


Critical Reaction: 5

[NY Times]

In “Monogamy,” the players are far more ordinary, their collisions less visibly bruising. There’s hurt here, though it surfaces slowly. Theo (Chris Messina), a wedding photographer, lives in Brooklyn with his girlfriend, Nat (Rashida Jones), and has carved out a somewhat improbable side gig sneaking shots of strangers for pay. Calling himself, in a contrived bit of whimsy, a Gumshoot, he takes photographs of paying strangers while hidden from their sight. The idea seems to be that clients will fork over dough to see what they look like in their everyday life, as in the case of an older gentleman who strolls around his neighborhood, chatting up the residents and greeting children and dogs. Theo assures the customer that he’s loved, using the photos as so much proof, and the old gent is happy to pay.


               


This professional voyeur angle takes a turn for the kinky, narratively and sexually, when a woman calling herself Subgirl (Meital Dohan) hires Theo to take photographs of her in a park. On the appointed morning he lies in wait with his camera while she shows up in tennis whites, oversize sunglasses and a bad blond wig. Then the little lady sits on a bench, takes a few quick looks around and begins pleasuring herself, a turn that suggests that she had been cozying up to the collected Brian De Palma the night before.


With modest resources, some nice digital camerawork and an appealing cast — the likable Ms. Jones draws you in easily — Mr. Shapiro keeps you engaged even when his story falters. Theo turns out to be its weakest link, simply because he’s too shallow a vessel for the narcissism (made literal in a scene of him staring into a mirror) with which he’s burdened. The problem isn’t that Theo isn’t especially good or interesting company, if through no fault of Mr. Messina’s, who doesn’t try to appeal to your sympathies. It’s that Mr. Shapiro appears unsure whether his character, who’s slow on the uptake (you’ll see the ending long before he does), deserves contempt, pity or kindness. - Manohla Dargis


               

 

Extras: 5

The bonus features outside the disc are more substantial than those on it.  The latter includes three deleted scenes averaging a little over a minute each, and three outtakes totaling just under five minutes!  One of these features the song “Puncture Repair” by Elbow.  That neither of these features should include a Play All option is atypically careless of Oscilloscope.  The third item on the disc is a music video “You Don’t Know (Nat’s Song)” sung by Rashida Jones with Bummer and Lazarus.  There are no features or commentary about the production.


On the inside of another brilliantly illustrated Oscilloscope jacket cover we find two essays this time: “I Do. . . Maybe” in which Amy Taubin comments on the theme of the movie; and an excerpt from Dana Adam Shapiro’s upcoming book: “You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Married” which, from the perspective of one a couple generations older than Mr. Shapiro, strikes me as a reinvention of the wheel. Both of these are presented in a neat white font against a red background, so small it might give you a headache.  Finally, you can access the complete screenplay as a transferable pdf from the disc onto your computer.


                   


Image: 8/6

For a picture that spends a good deal of its time more or less in the dark, with blacks bobbling up a considerable part of the screen, the image is surprisingly dimensional, drawing us into every scene convincingly and effortlessly.  As usual with Oscilloscope, there are no transfer issues, with edge enhancement hardly noticeable and virtually no noise in all those dark zones.  The picture is a little oddly formatted at 1.88:1.


Audio & Music: 7/8

Oscilloscope offers both the presumably original stereo and the commonly expected 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes, the latter is acceptable and will please most viewers.


               

 

Recommendation: 6

It is unusual for an Indie film to garner consistent critical reaction - despite its win of the Tribeca Film Festival award for “Best New York Narrative Film” (which feels like faint praise) and an Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best First Screenplay - but such is the case with “Monogamy” - Metacritic scores ranged from a high of 60 and a low of 38.  My take is much the same.  While the photography is fresh and involving, and the music selections smart and supportive, I couldn’t say the same for the main character on whose pursuits we dwell for most of the film.  Picture and audio quality are both very good.


               


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

June 5, 2011

 

 

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