Ed and Alice are in love. They are getting married. But as their wedding approaches, Alice worries that she hasn’t slept with enough men. She suggests that they see other people before settling down to a lifetime of fidelity. Initially reluctant, Ed finally agrees to a pre-wedding free-for-all. What follows is a hilarious and often poignant comedy about sex, long-term relationships and temptation.
‘Seeing Other People’ is a romantic comedy with a heck of a twist. Not only is it not about boy meets girl, boy loses girl, blah blah blah, but it reverses some of the roles and takes liberties with traditional values.
In light of this, it may not appeal to the average viewer. Most people want their romantic comedies to be saccharine and pretty, which usually means formulaic. With ‘Seeing Other People’, one gets neither.
Which doesn’t meant that it’s not funny. It most certainly is. It’s just that the film is about love without being sweet about it. And it can be gritty, messy. After all, this is about a couple that decides to try a very different approach to their relationship: polyamory.
*Minor spoiler alert*
Even though I could never fathom doing the same, being a hardwired monogamist, I really loved the film’s exploration of the subject. I liked that it didn’t skew the balance between the man and woman too much: she was the one to initiate things, but she wanted to stop after a while; he, however reticent he might have been at the onset, ended up enjoying it, and decided that he’d like to carry on.
*Minor spoiler alert*
This sort of arrangement frequently comes from a male perspective, with the woman resigning herself to it. So I enjoyed that they changed it up and explored the impact of this choice on both of them – not just emotionally, but in how it affected their relationship and their lifestyle. It seemed credible, if not likely, to me. And I think the last few frames said it all.
I enjoyed the whole cast, but I especially liked Andy Richter and Josh Charles. Richter plays himself, really, but I liked his character’s no-nonsense and grounded approach to life. I could relate with him the most (although I envied Ed and Alice’s life before they began to look outside their relationship). Charles (whom I only remember from ‘Threesome’) was loads of fun to watch as a seemingly cold bastard with his own hidden pain; this duality was quite something.
Actually, I found that each character had an interesting story and amusing twists. The two main characters were the most plain of the bunch, but even they ended up with a few fun developments. The dialogue helped a great deal, because it was filled with riotous lines; as the characters commented on each other’s lives, their observations often cut through the BS in a razor-sharp way.
I laughed a lot from start to finish and, without a doubt, I will want to watch ‘Seeing Other People’ again. I’m really glad that I decided to take a chance on it, knowing absolutely nothing about it when I bought it a couple of weeks ago.
I may even want to explore writer-director Wallace Wolodarsky’s other works now – even though, at first glance, they also seem only vaguely interesting to me. But, since ‘Seeing Other People’ was well worth seeing, perhaps the others are as well.
Post scriptum: for some reason, I can easily imagine pairing this up with ‘Divorce American Style’, because both stories are about relationships that dramatically change when one of the partners suddenly wants something different for themselves in what was until then quite a nice arrangement. The fact that both films blend drama and comedy so well, tossing irony into the mix also adds to that impression. Granted, they’re completely different films from different eras tackling different relationship models, but I may double bill them for fun sometime.