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by Eric Kohn
March 15, 2009 10:33 AM
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SXSW Snapshot: Daryl Wein's "Breaking Upwards"

A scene from Daryl Wein's "Breaking Upwards." Image courtesy of film's official website.

The technologically progressive "Four Eyed Monsters" looks like a downright period piece compared to the social media content in Daryl Wein's "Breaking Upwards." The story of a New York couple experimenting with an open relationship, the movie contains innumerable references to Facebook, Gchat, JDate, camera phones, you name it. In some cases, a filmmaker's attempt to constantly remind viewers that their plot unfolds in the present can have excruciating results (remember "Honest to blog?"). But Wein's clever approach to the conventions of the romantic comedy smooth over these obvious contemporary ingredients. It's not a perfectly even ride, but hardly an unpleasant one, which feels especially unique for a movie about two people gradually growing apart.

Wein and co-star Zoe Lister-Jones (his real life girlfriend and the co-writer) assemble a playful narrative filled with vibrant dialogue and a swift pace. The duo intelligently discuss their relationship flaws and decide to take certain days off. Naturally, things don't quite go as planned, particularly once they attempt to explore the dicey territory of the open relationship. The movie benefits from the charisma of its leads and occasional stylistic flourishes, such as a loud party conversation that uses subtitles. However, despite the playfulness, "Breaking Upwards" never becomes the full blown experimental work its creators may have intended. In their attempts to update a conventional scenario, they have managed to make it familiar all over again.

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