Sunday evening brought three Brooklynites and one Astorian together in Manhattan's IFC for a viewing of a film within our favorite genre: New York indie relationship stories that FREAK US OUT. Why do we watch these things?
We know they are going to be depressing, we know they are going to be too snarky, or too saccharine, or too close to home. But there is something about watching a twenty-something couple on screen walking their bikes through the West Village that makes us tilt out of our chairs with interest. Maybe it's the cautionary part of it, or maybe its the narcissists in all of us. But very few things can get us out of Brooklyn on a Sunday, and this movie did just that. (Sure wish it was playing at BAM! Stupid C train...)
Breaking Upwards is the story of a breakup. And doesn't that bit of knowledge kind of make you hate the title? It's the story of an over educated Manhattan couple who love each other but have grown bored of their relationship and the monotony of Idol on Tuesdays and things like that. We all know the story-- they met right after college, got comfortable, and never really left. They don't feel the need to talk about marriage like their Midwestern counterparts because in New York you don't have to talk about things like that for a while. And yet, the relationship eventually becomes stagnant and stale but without reason. Ho hum.
The film opens with a mutual need for 'days off' of their relationship. 'Lets try spending some time apart! Dating other people! It might be good for us! Perhaps even bring us closer!' Well, obviously it isn't good for anyone, and it ends in heartbreak. Clearly. (The word 'clearly' was for Anna, who confessed to me last night that I overuse it that and she sometimes uses it to imitate me in conversation.)
What drew us to this film, however, is that the two main characters, Daryl and Zoe, were played by THEMSELVES. They wrote it, they acted in it, and they are a couple in real life! In New York! In the Village! Their real life names are Daryl and Zoe too! See, you would go to Manhattan for it too.
Ali, Katie, Nick, and I timidly discussed the movie over curry (so spicy that it gave me upper lip sweat) on Bleecker afterwards, all hesitating on our opinions. We were clearly interested in it (there it is again!) but no one would really fess up to actually liking the movie. We all liked Daryl, and came to a mutual conclusion that he is the good guy that none of us will ever date. We liked Zoe's shiny lipstick, and we liked that Margie's cousin Olivia had a small role. (Hi Margie, if you're out there!)
The thing is, even if the film making is choppy and cliche and falling very short of brilliant, we will never grow tired of these Woody Allenesque films about people whom we secretly aim to be. We embrace the New York tragedy of it all, and will suffer through as many talking heads as young film school grads will throw our way. We loved Annie Hall and we LOVED The Way We Were (not Woody Allen but you get my point) and are continually left chasing the idea that eventually a film like this will give us some answers.
Yes, in the end Daryl and Zoe broke up. We knew it was coming and instead of making us hurt, it made us feel relieved and a bit lighter. Which, come to think of it, is a nice little film trick that they totally pulled off. They flipped the genre a bit. And what we learned in the 90 minute viewing is that good things happen after relationships end-- really good things. Good things like lazy Sunday afternoons in the Village watching indie films at the IFC, then eating spicy green curry and laughing so hard you cry with your best friends who haven't figured any of it out either.