Certain topics pertaining to sex and intimacy aren’t really taboo anymore. We’ve had an influx of orgy comedies (A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town), and filmmakers have also captured stripped-down dating culture in the current digital age (Jackie Boy, as well as with glossier mainstream movies). Because of these advancements in storytelling, Jon E. Cohen’s underwhelming feature film debut A Swingers Weekend feels a few years too late.
A Swingers Weekend isn’t really about the act of swinging or partner swapping though. The experimentation in this dramedy is to allow characters to unpack their own long-term romantic relationships. It’s a plan devised by Lisa and Dan (Erin Karpluk, Randal Edwards), approved of by their close friends TeeJay and Skai (Michael Xavier, Erin Agostina), and eventually given the greenlight by last-minute guests Geoffrey and Fiona (Jonas Chernick, Mia Kirshner). Once everyone is on the same page and anticipating their evenings, they’re surprised by new personal predicaments with other people. Well, a surprise for them. It’s not really a surprise for the audience who can clearly see each incoming conflict.
Besides the film being predictable, A Swingers Weekend rambles for most of its duration. It’s tough to pin down the root of this problem: the pacing is either “off” in the writing, or Cohen’s direction is too loose around his improvising actors. The movie is also a cheesy endeavour with characters overemphasizing their awkwardness. That’s okay if Cohen set out to make a farce about romance or introverts coming out of their shell, but the dramatic downshift suggests he wants to start a film career very carefully. It’s a cop out, but a safe move for a first-timer.
A Swingers Weekend screens at Toronto’s Canadian Film Festival on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:00pm at Scotiabank Theatre.
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