Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TIFF10 Review: A Married Couple

A Married Couple

To honour last year’s passing of legendary Canadian filmmaker Allen King, TIFF included one of King’s most profound, and controversial film, in their program. Originally released in 1969, A Married Couple examines the turbulent relationship between Billy and Antoinette Edwards. The couple constantly bickers over everything from the car to what their money should be spent on. These arguments may seem rather petty to some, but they are part of a much bigger issue that neither Billy nor Antoinette are willing to address.

A Married Couple was made during a time when Allen King was attempting to get over a bitter relationship of his own. The documentary is King’s way of dissecting what causes relationships to fall apart. In the case of Billy and Antoinette, the unspoken elephant in the room is their lack of true intimacy, both physically and emotionally.

Antoinette is going through the motions of daily life as she fell out of love with Billy years earlier. This is evident by the fact that she prefers to sleep in a separate room and openly flirts with other men in Billy’s presence. Her outlandish plans to renovate the house with items the couple do not need, is Antoinette’s way of forcing Billy to pull the trigger on a divorce. Billy, on the other hand, continually fights a losing battle to maintain the gender status quo in his home. Billy sees himself as the provider and expects a certain level of obedience from Antoinette based on this fact. When he gets abusive with Antoinette it is clear that he knows that he has lost the last bit of control he had in the relationship. Billy knows that he can never live up to the high expectations Antoinette had for him when they first got together.

The issues raised in A Married Couple may have taken place in 1969 but they are still extremely relevant today. King wisely leaves the audience to place judgment on the couple. He merely presents the facts as they were filmed. A Married Couple is a fascinating documentary that, 41 years later, still packs a punch. Frankly it can still rival many of the best documentaries made today. A must-see for couples, fans of documentaries, and cinema lovers in general. A special Criterion edition DVD of A Married Couple will be released later this month. Be sure to pick up a copy.

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