I Do… Until I Don’t
Written/Directed by: Lake Bell
Starring: Lake Bell, Ed Helms, Mary Steenburgen, Amber Heard, Paul Reiser, Wyatt Cenac and Dolly Wells
Run Time: 1h 43min
2 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
This is a comedy written and directed by Lake Bell who is more known for her talent in front of the camera in films such as No Strings Attached, Million Dollar Arm and most recently, Shot Caller. She shows some skill with any genre in her capable acting and now with this feature film, she demonstrates to her audience that she can be trusted with their faith in her ability to bring them a good laugh from behind the lens, as well. I’ll admit that I was only mildly looking forward to the movie and was basing this decision more on the fact that she was in it. It turns out that I quite surprised, in a good way, by the script and by the fact that when it came to casting, Bell did not make one mistake in her choices. All in all, she turned in an off-beat, quirky, kooky comedy that I enjoyed and I think you will, too.
In the vein of a satirical sketch comedy show, Bell presents to us an ensemble of marriages that work and don’t work. The movie sometimes follows suit by working and not working but you relish in the jokes and the scenes they’re placed in. We’re introduced to three couples in the beginning of the film; they are the protagonists of this narrative. She also brings about the antagonist who is out to prove that marriage can no longer and does no longer exist. Bell has created a boorish, sarcastic, ill-tempered British documentary filmmaker named Vivian (Wells) who hopes to cash in on someone else’s anguish. She has a very powerful belief that marriages should only be a seven-year contract with an ‘option to renew.’ She wants to capture the moment a couple breaks up so she can possibly be there to orchestrate the action.
She meets Cybil (Steenburgen) who agrees to be a part of the project for a large amount of money. Tired of her marriage with Harvey (Reiser), she promises she can hand Vivian a good divorce for the screen. Steenburgen is very good in this role. Cybil is a little devious but seems to be in way over her head.
Then she runs into Alice (Bell) who is married to Noah (Helms). She’s a fan of Vivian’s work. Based on the idea of couples in crises, she thinks she can be of some help to the director. She’s desperate and gives Vivian a little something so she will agree to use her in the documentary… Noah wants her sister. Like chum for a shark, Vivian takes the bate.
Interestingly enough, it turns out Vivian already snagged the sister for the feature. She’s Fanny (Heard), a bit of a ditzy, feather-headed hippie who has entered into an open marriage with Zander (Cenac). Vivian wasn’t aware they were sisters at first but some infighting might be good for the piece. It’s a win-win for her.
She gets them all to agree to let her in their homes and she interviews them as they speak of their unhappiness. She does her best to purposefully steer the mood in negative directions to better make her point that the institution of marriage is a sham. Bell’s movie is, at times, hilariously uncomfortable. It’s R rated for a reason and she uses that well. All the characters are broken, almost shattered and before you know it, the film lightens up. The couple who are done is only feeling this way because they never speak; took one another for granted.
The pair in an open relationship realizes they never actually wanted to be with anyone else. Essentially, this is a fun look at how someone telling you that what you’re doing is wrong, confirms that true love exists. These three marriages are now stronger than ever… it’s Vivian’s film that has no life to it anymore.
See it at Harkins Camelview Fashion Square tonight.