Webcams and laptops may have turned just about anybody into a filmmaker among all those hi-tech younger generations out there. But when it comes to brushing up on the nuts and bolts of human bonding, especially love in those mumblecore movies, the plot points more often than not seem to be headed precariously in the opposite direction.
And Dana Adam Shapiro’s Monogamy would appear to slip right into that category, where mechanics replace meaning as the lost art of language self-destructs into slo-mo communication breakdown. Not to mention in this particular case, the ordeal of monogamy for a lusty guy, when faced with that sea of surrounding seductive females on the planet.
Chris Messina, who honed his skills as a lovesick pup not long ago under Woody Allen in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is Theo in Monogamy, a terminally bored Brooklyn wedding photographer. Theo is engaged to his live-in girlfriend Nat (Rashida Jones), and with a wedding date in place just a few months away.
But despite their affectionate relationship, Theo may be experiencing low level commitment panic, and without even being aware of what could be bugging him. Doubts start gnawing away at his loyalty in small ways, as with Nat’s annoying tendency to interrupt their impromptu mating sessions with her acute olfactory sense of bodies first in need of showering, or a cut thumb while cooking up dinner.
But these divisive issues accelerate even further when Theo feeds his own latent voyeuristic obsessions as a photographer, by setting up a sideline pursuit on the Internet, dubbed Gumshoot. This play on words of ‘gumshoe’ is offered to any takers as a strange service during which the anonymous Theo will document secretly with his camera, these customers as they go about their daily routines.
Theo is soon attracting increasingly unhealthy requests from Subgirl, a mysterious bottle blonde sexpot who hires him to stalk her around town, but never actually desires to meet. Subgirl first beckons Theo to a public park for a morning shoot, while she engages in self-pleasure in a skimpy tennis outfit on a bench, and in full views of passersby and one curious squirrel. Later on, she directs her hired stalker via email to meet up in a dark alley, where a thuggish stud materializes out of nowhere and forces his way into her car with smudged over license plates, for a little mutual hot sex.
And as the kinky attraction between equally conspiratorial minded voyeur and exhibitionist percolates but is never consummated, Theo aka Gumshoot finds himself losing interest in Nat. And appears to have even forgotten that she’s been hospitalized for that now seriously infected thumb, where an infatuated geeky doctor on duty with a somewhat inappropriate bedside manner, grabs the opportunity to court her with a cactus.
All does not seem to be ending well, when Theo starts inappropriately stalking Subgirl for free by engaging in feverish incidental espionage. And, involving Subgirl’s suspect tattoos, a shady midtown corporate suit, and stalker detail on the Long Island Railroad.
Monogamy sustains just enough scenic visuals and steamy erotic suspense that keeps it from turning into Monotony instead, though it dangles close to that precipice throughout. And not helped in any way by Nat’s incessant whining about being neglected, even if justified.
On a side note, that very secret identity of Subgirl may not only be revealed as something else entirely, but Israeli actress Meital Dohan as well. Who is listed professionally as ‘the sexy rabbinical scholar Yael Hoffman on the Showtime hit, Weeds’, and the star of that country’s Emmy Award winning Ugliest Estie. Which is the Israeli Ugly Betty.
2 1/2 [out of 4] stars