A Married Couple Film Details
Overview: An “actuality drama” about a real-life marriage in crisis, in which the couple attempts to identify and resolve the conflicts and resentments that have driven them to the brink of separation.
Review: A MARRIED COUPLE is a classic; a seminal film in the Direct Cinema movement, in its heyday during the late 1960’s. Light years before all this “reality TV” dreck, documentary filmmakers were doing projects without the traditional narration to the camera, or voiceovers.. just attempting to capture things as they naturally unfold. The great dichotomy of this practice of course, is just how much of this stuff is real that they are putting on film? Be it with a Bolex in the 1960’s or a mini-DV camera today, the basic argument has not changed. The camera is still too powerful a tool to ignore if it is in plain view. Sometimes with Direct Cinema, these projects seem like the director is saying, “the film’s rolling; put on a show for me”. Perhaps A MARRIED COUPLE is the best example of this feeling. Whatever the case, it remains a hilarious, shocking, upsetting, bristling piece of work. In 90 minutes (with footage culled from months of staying with this couple), we watch the disintegration of the marriage between Billy and Antoinette Edwards. The way in which Allan King captures these desperate moments (and these two fight about everything, believe me) is unequalled in standard narrative film, except perhaps works by John Cassavetes. The fact that these two are screaming at each other over every little thing is hilarious theatre at first, but the effect soon becomes saddening. Plus, one cannot help but wonder if the intrusion of the film crew is partially responsible for their own marriage breakdown. Taking the theory, “put on a show for me”, do the Edwards’ begin to believe their own feelings that they vent on film? Few pieces of cinema constantly test the viewer’s ability to discern reality within such a natural setting. And although the film is a documentary (albeit perhaps not wholly completely one), it does have a standard A to B narrative progression– as it begins with sweetness and kissing, and then just declines from there. On those terms, this might be remarkable for just being a documentary about a marriage coming apart. However, once one learns that these scenes were not shot sequentially, a whole new set of issues arise. What are we really seeing? But still, A MARRIED COUPLE is an astonishing piece of work which is worthy for its subject matter as well as its paradoxical approach. No other film illustrates late 1960’s suburban milieu with such sad poetry. You understand how and why people get into ruts by being married to people they can no longer stand, in these posh surroundings. The unhappiness of executive life outside of the office is laid bare. (In hindsight this film anticipated the escalating divorce statistics of the 1970’s.) How on Earth did this couple put their trust in Allan King to reveal themselves so completely to the camera? In one astonishing scene, Antoinette reveals to a co-worker over lunch that she had an extra-marital affair!! (Imagine Billy when he saw the finished film.) I don’t believe that the Edwards’ are saying anything or behaving in any fashion that they do not mean, but I would guess that the presence of the camera nonetheless heightened their emotional outbursts. In any case, they are damned convincing actors, and A MARRIED COUPLE remains an unforgettable, hair-raising film that also speaks layers about film language.
Duration: 97 min
Also known as: A Married Couple,Małżeństwo,Una coppia sposata,Marido e esposa,Un couple marié,Ein verheiratetes Paar