Directed by Dana Adam Shapiro
Monogamy, from the get-go, has a few strikes against it. An American indie film promising to tackle the tried and true subject of relationships and everything that's relatively shitty and complex about them, it doesn't at first glance seem to have much unique or compelling going on in its favor. And, seen from up close, it really doesn't.
Coming across as a hipster-y erotic drama that mooches perhaps a bit too much from Antonioni's Blow-Up, Monogamy aligns its gaze with Theo's (Chris Messina) camera to detail his obsession with "Subgirl," an anonymous woman whom he happens to snap while on assignment.Theo's a self-described "gumshoot"—he shoots candid photos of people at a certain location, per their request. "Subgirl" proves to not be a typical subject—she apparently has a thing for fingerg herself on park benches in broad daylight—and as Theo begins ogling the final product a bit too much for his own good, his newfound obsession fucks things up with Nat (Rashida Jones), his fiancée. But is it all beyond repair?
While director Dana Adam Shapiro (Murderball) aspires to comment about commitment and masculinity through the film's general focus on Theo's apparent insecurities—and almost complete abandonment of Nat by the narrative in the final act—the final product doesn't amount to much. Monogamy evokes more of a "d'oh!" than a gasp of realization, as it flounders on the surface of its subject matter. One can't help but wonder if this is the culmination of previous desires or relationship drama, but Shapiro apparently sees no reason to give any of the ogling and stalking we're repeatedly subjected to any sort of deeper meaning. It all feels somewhat lecherous—which it is—and not much else. Always observed from a distance, and never in the context of anything but a sexual act, "Subgirl" resembles a kind-of-sort-of slutty mythical creature, her blonde good looks the epitome of stereotypical heterosexual male desire. She's a sexual object, nothing more.
The flood of indie movie clichés does nothing to help the story along, either. There should be a cap on the amount of scenes involving an acoustic guitar allowed in an American indie flick. This one has three, which is at least three too many. The handheld camerawork gives off the vibe of every other low-budget Brooklyn-based indie flick you've seen this century, Williamsburg Bridge biking sequence and all. Shapiro's depiction of the hipster playground brings to mind a mumblecore production more than anything else; the tired low-budget look is the perfect complement to a soporific narrative.
Opens March 11