Portrait of a Serial Monogamist, so far, is the best Canadian indie of the new year. Filmmakers John Mitchell and Christina Zeidler have co-wrote and co-directed an identifiable and balanced film about stalled romance.
Elsie (played terrifically by Diane Flacks) is known for her many relationships. She romanticizes about the conceptual stages of falling in love, and bails out when things are getting serious. Her recent relationship with artist Robyn Woodyard (played by Carolyn Taylor) marks her first hesitant double take. It was easy to end things with Robyn (resulting in a comedically awkward and memorable confrontation), but when Elsie sets her eyes on a local DJ (Lolli played by Vanessa Dunn), the happiness doesn’t measure up to what she originally had with Robyn.
The filmmakers could’ve used Portrait of a Serial Monogamist as a platform to demonstrate romantic politics within the LGBT community, but they realize the story is more universal than that. Instead, movie goers receive a film that is relatable on multiple levels, with dialogue that sounds organic and naturally amusing. The conversations between Elsie and her friend Sarah (played by Sabrina Jalees of MuchMusic’s Video on Trial) particularly stand out. A deconstruction of hooking-up at a dog park is the strongest example of how perceptively hilarious Mitchell and Zeidler’s writing is.
Then, there are moments where silence is utilized exceptionally. A touching moment happens between Flacks and Dunn when their characters randomly meet at a local coffee shop after a night of rejection. Flacks’ slight break of the fourth wall adds to her despair.
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist isn’t immune to all indie clichés. For instance, the film hands out shots of Flacks cruising to indie tunes on her bicycle as if the filmmakers are handing candy out on Halloween, but even those instances work. It allows the filmmakers to showcase different art and cultural sectors of Toronto in a vibrant light without sugar-coating the city as a hipster’s Neverland.
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is an intelligent and sensuous film – a Canadiana High Fidelity.
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