Saturday, February 29, 2020

Roger Nygard's back -- with a new doc about making it work: THE TRUTH ABOUT MARRIAGE


The truth about THE TRUTH ABOUT MARRIAGE -- the new documentary from Roger Nygard, who earlier gave us the very interesting The Nature of Existence -- is that there isn't just a single truth here, but a myriad of 'em. Actually, Mr. Nygard's doc might have been better titled The Truth About Relationships because, as the movie rolls along, it becomes ever clearer that whether or not you sign on the dotted line, your relationship -- be it straight or gay, twosome, threesome, or the more oddly specific "parental partnership," it's going to take work. Lots of work. This can, however, turn out to be more interesting, productive and fun.

Nygard, shown at left, seems to have done more editing than anything else (now he writes, directs and edits), and it shows: The fellow certainly knows how to move his movies fast, make good sense, coalesce, and not be (too) repetitive. TrustMovies must admit that it was not the subject of this movie that intrigued him but the filmmaker's former work. Really, how much more can we see, hear or learn about "making relationships work," for Christ' sake! As it turns out, quite a lot. And Nygard has managed to ferret this out, via a handful of wise and well-spoken "experts," along with another handful of folk in various kinds of relationships, explaining how they have made their own brand come to fruition. (Some of both types are shown below.)

As well as being a smart editor, Nygard is a good interviewer, putting his subjects at enough ease so that they can relax, enjoy what's going on, and properly answer the specific and highly germane questions the filmmaker wants answered.

If the first couple-or-so minutes of the movie appear to traffic in the same old clich├ęs, hang on but another moment or two (until you get to the attractive woman engaged in that parenting partnership) -- and suddenly you may find yourself in territory that is anything but typical.

Even when the male of one couple explains to us that the relationship is a work in progress -- "I do the work, and she makes the progress" -- the comment is not merely funny and original (to me, at least), it helps demonstrates one of the points that the film not-so-subtly makes: that women do indeed tend to control relationships, along with the Darwinian reason for this -- helping to guarantee a survival of the species.

Thankfully, the documentary never weighs too heavily toward either male or female, while some of its findings will probably surprise and maybe even please you. Nygard and his subjects tackle everything from history and genetics to hormones and (glancingly, at least) bisexuality.

In regard to one of these important subjects: Couples should go off the pill at least one year before they commit to a long-term relationship. To another: How did the understanding of agriculture change the way people behaved sexually? See what I mean: Unless you are already very intelligent and well-versed, you're going to want to learn the answers to these -- and lots more. You will, here.

Nygard moves his film fast, doesn't linger, and has enough wit, ideas and just plain common sense to keep us hooked throughout. Even when he seems to spend, shall we say, an awfully long time with Don Blanquito (above, right) a loudmouth American in Brazil you want to tell to shut-the-fuck-up, what do you know? Down the road a bit, the fellow has mellowed, and we soon see why and how.

And just when you're thinking, regarding that black man, his ex-wife and the woman with whom he's now in a relationship (they all three live together), "Well, that poor ex-wife seems way too silent!" then she opens up, and you find yourself  'eating your thoughts,' as it were.

No, this is the kind of movie you're going to want everyone you care at all deeply about to see, enjoy and learn from. In fact, I think it is literally the only example I've seen about relationships -- in films, books, TV, and elsewhere -- that I could wholeheartedly recommend. Not coincidentally, the movie made me realize how much more I could have done regarding my own relationships over the years.

From Blink Movies and running just 81 minutes, The Truth About Marriage hit VOD, via all the usual outlets, this past February 14 -- the perfect gift for Valentine's Day. I'm just sorry I didn't get to watching it sooner. (The movie, by the way, has its own accompanying book available for purchase.)

Note: For purposes of better comprehension, 
I've left out the names of the various interviewees,
but if you like to know who they are, click here and then 
scroll down till you've found the correct identification. 

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