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PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST (Canada 2014) **
Directed by Christina Zeidler and John Michell
Starring: Robin Duke, Masa Lizdek, Grace Lynn Kung
Review by Gilbert Seah
This spritely romantic relationship comedy is exactly what the title promises. It is the story of monogamist, Elsie (Diane Flacks), in her thirties who cannot, no matter how much she tries change her ways. A slight twist to the story is that Elsie is a lesbian.
When the film begins, Elsie has just broken up with her girlfriend, Robyn (Carolyn Taylor). Robyn has not taken the breakup too easily. It is tough for them to remain friends without fighting.
Meanwhile, Elsie has a fling or two while trying to survive her job was aTV producer after a corporate takeover. She is offered advice from friends and family. As the saying goes: “Everyone has a advice and everyone is full of sh**”
That is basically what the entire film is about. It is pretty boring for those who cannot connect with the main character. Whether one does depends, but to Flacks, credit, she is not a bad actress.
The film is shot in Toronto and the directors are proud of the fact. Torontonians will recognize familiar sights like the local streets, streetcars and buildings. The film also showcases local musical and art talent.
Diane Flacks inhabits her role comfortably, passing off as a desperate lesion trying not to be desperate. She creates a likeable character and a very human one. She is pretty though not overtly pretty and smart, though human enough to make mistakes and smart enough to recognize them. She takes a little time to figure out what she wants. In other words, she is a normal person, a nice Jewish girl from Toronto (as she describes herself) in the ordinary sense. Of the supporting cast, Robin Duke stands out as Elsie’s mother, a nice Jewish woman from Montreal.
The film ends up an ok watch, but there is nothing exceptional about the film, which is a shame. Everyone tries very hard, as is evident in the last scene of the cat funeral. During the cat funeral, Elsie and Robyn have it out amidst the ceremony. It is definitely a far-fetched scene that is funny at parts, but feels too artificial.
There are no sex scenes, thanks goodness for that! The actresses are pretty but not sexy enough that the audience would like to watch them doing it in the nude. The kissing scenes are sufficient and short.
PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST, made in 2014 finally reaches the big screen after making its round across the country’s LGBT festival circuit. The film is unlikely to become a big hit, but its target audience is clearly the LGBT festival audience and maybe the local Toronto art scene.
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