Portrait of A Serial Monogamist, is a lesbian romantic comedy, by Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell. A forty-something lesbian and serial monogamist breaks up with her long-standing girlfriend, only to discover that her new love interest might not be interested in a relationship. Toronto is the backdrop for this romantic comedy about a woman forced to confront herself and the possibility that she broke up with the one she was meant to be with.
Un ‘monogamo seriale’ è una persona che passa il minor tempo possibile da single, saltando dalla fine di un rapporto, all’inizio di un nuovo rapporto il più rapidamente possibile, senza lasciarsi il tempo per pensare. Assunto di questa divertente commedia romantica ambientata in una bellissima Toronto è che la monogama seriale sia un personaggio piuttosto comune nella comunità lesbica.
Protagonista del film è Elsie, una donna di circa quarant’anni, ebrea e lesbica. Elsie ha un lavoro di successo (produttore televisivo), è intelligente ed è affascinante. Elsie è però anche una monogama seriale: ha cioè problemi a impegnarsi sentimentalmente a lungo termine mentre è bravissima nel troncare le sue relazioni non appena si fanno serie, per poi gettarsi a capofitto in una nuova storia. Ma quando a farne le spese è la sua compagna storica Robyn, un’artista, che Elsie scarica per rimpiazzarla subito con la più giovane e sexy barista/DJ Lolli, le cose non vanno come lei aveva sperato. Elsie deve fronteggiare le proteste di sua madre e le critiche dei suoi amici, che la invitano anche a rimanere single e a non frequentare locali per almeno cinque mesi. Lolli poi, non è quello che sembra e forse non è nemmeno interessata ad una relazione. E poi, come mai che ogni volta che Elsie vede Robyn , sente dentro ancora qualcosa per lei ? E se Elsie avesse davvero commesso un grave errore? Elsie si ritrova a dover fare un viaggio alla scoperta di se stessa e a dover fare i conti con le conseguenze delle sue azioni: la possibilità di rimanere da sola e di aver gettato via l’amore della sua vita. E noi la seguiamo, con occhio divertito, in quella sua crisi di mezza età.
La regista Christina Zeidler ha dichiarato di essersi ispirata per il personaggio di Elsie al protagonista di ‘Alta fedeltà’ di Stephen Frears , un personaggio piuttosto egoista, immaturo, sleale, ma che è anche adorabile, divertente e affascinante, capace perciò di conquistare il pubblico, che prende le sue difese anche se non ne condivide le scelte. La Zeidler si è chiesta: ‘perché non creare un personaggio così, in chiave femminile e lesbica?” e ne ha parlato a John Mitchell. (MM)
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is a fresh coming-of-middle-age rom-com that is rich in diverse queer characters, dealing expertly with the universal complications of modern-day relationships.
This film is certainly not just another coming out story as we are used to seeing in LGBT cinema; although it is set within a queer community, the story tackles issues that are relatable regardless of your gender identity or sexuality. This film is accessible to any adult who has experienced the all too familiar fear of being alone. It confronts the distant inner yearning we have to compete ourselves and fulfil some sort of void within us by filling that space with a relationship, and trying to fix ourselves by fixing others.
Elsie (Diane Flacks) is a woman who almost prides herself in being an exceptional break-up artist, having learnt from her long history of break-ups the “best” way to do it to achieve the cleanest break possible, and to never have to look back. However, following her most recent break up of a five-year relationship, Elsie realises that she perhaps isn’t quite the escape artist she had thought herself to be – it’s all well and good escaping relationships, but ultimately you can never really escape yourself and what you bring to each new relationship. This is how she comes to terms with the fact that she is a serial monogamist. The rest of the film follows her encounters with her friends and exes and the character development achieved through this is written and directed expertly (by John Mitchell and Christina Zeidler).
As for the technical achievements of this film, the cinematography (by Celiana Cárdenas) is lovely; beautifully capturing Portrait of A Serial MonogamistToronto and complimenting the somewhat artistic view on life that Elsie and her new love interest seem to share. The direction is brilliant, bringing the most out of some characters that if not handled delicately could have appeared one-dimensional – this film is great at conveying everything that needs to be put across in a minimalistic way, leaving room for the audience to make up their own minds about character motives and the narrative’s deeper explorations. There are many great performances in this film: Diane Flacks plays Elsie, portraying the complex character very well and in a realistic manner. Carolyn Taylor plays Robyn, the most recent ex, doing very well at showing her character is somewhat of a victim of Elsie’s but without coming across as totally pathetic. Caroline Gillis plays the quirky best friend Grace, bringing a lot of comic relief with her great timing and likability. Vanessa Dunn plays the new love interest Lolli, striking the perfect balance of sexy and edgy whilst still being sweet and likable. Sabrina Jalees plays friend Sarah, again bringing great likability and comedic value to the screen. There are many more talented performances in this film that would take too long to list, but every character is necessary to the plot and well rounded.
If there is any criticism to give this film, it is perhaps that in parts it lacked momentum and the duration felt a bit longer than necessary. Also the ending was very open-ended, which is fitting to the narrative but not overly satisfying. However, overall this is a great film, which I will award 4/5 stars, and highly recommend. VOTO: 4/5 (planet-london.com)
INTERVISTA AGLI AUTORI di Daniela Costa su AfterEllen.com
If you haven’t yet, you’ll definitely come to know a lesbian or two (or six) who is perpetually in a relationship. One ends and another one starts. Maybe you are that lesbian. If you are, sorry, but from the outside looking in, that’s a recipe for laughs. Co-directors/writers Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell caught onto the phenomenon and explored it in their new film Portrait of a Serial Monogamist.
The movie centers around Elsie (Diane Flacks), a television producer in her forties who somehow always finds herself restless in her relationships. She’s got breaking up down to a routine, and finding a new girlfriend (like, right away) is just as easy for her. But when she breaks up with her long-term girlfriend Robyn to pursue the latest hot young thing, she sets herself up for a journey of self-discovery. And we get to be with her for the ride.
We spoke with Zeidler, Mitchell and Flacks ahead of the movie’s world premiere.
AfterEllen.com: John and Christina, what drew you to making this particular movie?
Christina Zeidler: I had just re-watched High Fidelity, and John and I were talking about these films that we really like.I was saying how the lead character is always a guy who is a lovable fuck up, but you go with them because they’re funny and charming. I really felt like there was missing in the genre a woman who was a fuck up, but funny and charming, and you go with her.
John Mitchell: So a couple of months went by and then we started talking and decided to make the movie. And then decided to make the character–Christina’s suggestion–a lesbian character.
AE: Christina, you introduced John to the concept of serial monogamy amongst lesbians. Can you dip into that a little bit?
CZ: It’s such a crazy cliché in the lesbian community. It’s fraught. Especially at certain times in your life. Like in your twenties it starts to become obvious, like, “Oh, you’ve dated eight people I know.” It’s like, “What the fuck?!” It starts to become a little pattern. And then some people get into long-term relationships, and so they can say, “Oh, I’m not a serial monogamist anymore.” But then actually as you cross your forties, you see people who break up with a 10-year relationship and get right into another relationship.
AE: Does Elsie always know she’s a serial monogamist?
Diane Flacks: No. I don’t think so. I think she thinks it was time to call it. Like she was doing everyone a favor. I believe she’s quite deluded at the beginning. Not to judge her in a negative way, but I feel like she doesn’t really know. She’s just kind of doing the right thing by everyone and making sure everyone’s taken care of. And then maybe in the back of her mind there was that DJ/barista, who, you know, you really should check out now that it’s over. I think if she really understood it she wouldn’t need to talk to the camera. She could just act out her life. But she can’t. She has to figure something out.
AE: Diane, how do you connect with Elsie?
DF: On a factual level, not at all. But I really love that she tries. I love that she tries so hard. I love that she loves her friends, and she fucks up. We all fuck up. I love that she’s in her forties. And she’s trying to do something new. I don’t think she kind of realizes that she is. She’s making a lot of mistakes. I think she’s got a great sense of humor. And I feel like she’s somewhat of an every woman in a sense. Like whether you’re queer or you’re straight, or you’re male or female, you want love, you want connection, and you’re going to fuck up to get it. And I think she has a good heart. I don’t think she’s trying to hurt anybody.
AE: Staying on that, using the term serial monogamist to describe Elsie, doesn’t that sound a bit too nice? A lot of her exes would probably just call her a jerk. What do you think?
DF: I hope that her exes are evolved enough to say, “Fuck you.” Like I hope in a way. But at the same time, I think we do this. Maybe it’s not unique, but I feel like in a lot of ways lesbians try to remain friends with their exes.
AE: Elsie’s a character that’s selfish and immature, yet totally endearing. How difficult was it to strike that balance?
JM: That was the challenge, was not losing the audience. We wanted the audience to be with Elsie every step of her journey, even if they were disagreeing with her choices. Her behavior is poor, but somehow you understand and sympathize.
CZ: When we were in the early days of writing it, like if you look at High Fidelity or Manhattan there’s a failed professional aspect to these men that is perfectly acceptable and women will date them, but that’s not true with women.It really had to be part of the storyline that she was kind of type A in her work, and really smart and driven and interesting.
AE: Elsie might not be the best girlfriend in the long run, but she has some pretty amazing friends in her life, so she must be doing something right. How important was it to show these other relationships?
JM: Hugely important. So important. We had to show the whole world of the character and her friends and the people she grew up with. Also, we wanted it to be an ensemble piece, which I think it is in a lot of ways.
CZ: Queers don’t live in these–well, for me, they don’t live in isolation. There has been, in my experience, a really beautiful part of learning about a queer community, and that has made all the difference in my life and world. So that’s something that we want to represent on screen–that these characters aren’t living in isolation. They’re living with this world around them.
JM: It’s part of the pleasure of a rom-com too. You’re invited into a world, and you get to know all these people, and you feel like you’re buddies with them by the end of it. Or you’d like to hang out with these people. We wanted to stay true to that part of the rom-com convention, and then also enhance it by making it authentic.
AE: So your world premiere is coming up on May 31 at the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto. That’s a big moment. Any expectations?
CZ: We’re, like, over the moon.
DF: It’s so exciting. It was such a labor of love for everybody, and especially these guys. They had something in mind that they wanted to do and they were so dedicated to it. And they’ve given their lives to it for all these years.
It’s going to be a community thing. First of all, they’ve showcased Toronto–it’s a love letter to Toronto, and everyone there is going to be like, “Fucking right on.” It is a great city and it makes us feel good about our city. And so many wonderful people in the community are in this movie. It was such a treat everyday to come to that set.
CZ: We hope the film stands up in between all those things. What we see is a film that will go to another place and be compelling because it’s so authentic.