Posted at 5:10 PM on April 22, 2009
by Euan Kerr
"Most romantic comedies start with a guy meeting a girl or vice versa and they fall in love and it goes from there, but I wasn't really interested in that." Director Daryl Wein is nothing if not direct. "I was interested in a couple that had been together for a really long time and what it's like to actually grow apart from someone."
Wein will introduce his film "Breaking Upwards" at the MSPIFF on Friday night and late Saturday afternoon. It's the story of a couple who are on the point of breaking up having been together for four years.
Wein knows the territory well. It's based on his relationship with long time girlfriend Zoe Lister-Jones. They were in an open relationship, but decided they wanted to take it a step further and have what they called "days off" from their relationship. They set up a lot of rules.
"When we started doing that I thought 'Wow, this is kind of funny and oddly communicative,'" he says. "And I thought it would be a good premise for a romantic comedy that was quirky, and romantic and serious at points."
So he began taking notes
"I think that was a little weird for Zoe," Wein admits. "So she wasn't too involved at first."
Well, actually she was. In fact his note-taking sparked a lot of what he describes as interesting arguments about the nature of putting your life on screen.
But she came around and began helping on the script. In time she became the producer. What's more she and Wein decided to portray themselves in the film. Wein admits it's been more than a little bizarre for their friends.
"A lot of our friends, they were on the other end of it throughout our relationship. We would constantly go to them and talk to them about it. They are probably so sick of it at this point," he laughs.
The film is a comedy, but there is a lot of pain in it too.
"Everything is loosely inspired by things in our lives, but it's not actual," says Wein.
"I guess we were just trying to get people to think a little bit more about the nature of monogamy and co-dependency. I guess the way our society puts so much pressure on monogamy and how taboo it is to be in an open relationship and to have multiple partners at once. I think a lot of people find that to be impossible, or are turned off by the fact that we really did that, and it's a tough thing to digest for most people. "
When asked if when he sees himself in the film he likes the person he sees on the screen, Wein answers in a couple of ways.
"It's really a blur because I co-wrote the film and directed it and act in it and also edited it, so I have seen the thing so many times, so many hours with it," he says.
"There are moments when I look at the character and I say "Oh God he's acting so needy, like he's not strong."
"But,' he says "I think for the most part we are happy with the way we portrayed our fictional selves."
The film has been doing well on the festival circuit and he says he's been surprised by the age range of people who have come up and said how they have had similar experiences.
"It seems to be quite universal for most people, because I think it's something we all go through in one way or another."
Wein and Lister-Jones will introduce the film this weekend. He reports their relationship is still strong, in fact they are working on a political thriller, although he doesn't want to say too much.
Of one thing he is sure: he will not be acting any more, unless it's in someone else's film.