Canadian Film Fest ’18: A Swingers Weekend

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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