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Movie Review: ‘Breaking Upwards’
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Breaking Upwards

Breaking Upwards
Directed by: Daryl Wein
Written by: Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein, Peter Duchan
Starring: Zoe Lister-Jones, Daryl Wein, Andrea Martin, Peter Friedman, Julie White, Olivia Thirlby
IFC Films
Release Date: April 2, 2010 (Limited)

It’s all just part of life as we know it: people enter into relationships, and every single day, many of those relationships hit a wall causing said people to go their separate ways. But what do you do when you realize that the bond you share with another is wearing thin and that it might be time to break up, but neither of you can bare the thought of being apart completely?

Breaking Upwards tells the story of a real-life couple named Daryl (Daryl Wein) and Zoe (Zoe Lister-Jones) who are living in New York. When they enter into the 4-year range of their relationship, they begin to realize certain cracks that simply just can’t be repaired. Another realization that they come to, is that they also can’t be apart from each other long enough to quit their relationship cold turkey, so they need to come up with a plan to make their breakup happen.

The plan? Slowly-but-surely wean themselves away from each other by taking “days off,” doing things much more independently, and even opening up themselves to romantic and sexual situations with others.

Head on over for more and to check out the trailer.

As Daryl and Zoe commit to this new strategy, things start off fairly smooth; but as time goes by, it gets harder and harder. They eventually have to tell their families, who have grown to love their children’s significant other as if they were their own, about their decision to move on. Then of course there’s the moment when they have to look each other in the eyes after exploring their decision to be open sexually with others. Things that made sense at one time suddenly make no sense at all, and many complications and difficulties are created within their endeavor.

The best part about Breaking Upwards is the natural feeling that the movie gives off; nothing feels forced or manufactured. The film’s stars based it on their own experience as a couple and their own attempt at breaking up slowly, and instead of casting actors to portray them, they decided that it would be best to handle the duties themselves. This was a majorly important choice, and the chemistry you see is not something that you can replicate with ease. The dialogue between the two is witty and funny, and they do a flawless job of selling their situation; but it’s the little things that really won me over. The way they looked into each other’s eyes, their tendencies when they’re alone together, and little things like lightly bumping helmets when they meet up for a bike ride together. These things made this movie more than just a movie and elevated it to an observation of the human spirit and the difficulties that exist not only in two souls existing as one, but how painfully impossible it can be to let that part of you go when things don’t work out.

The movie does a good job of showing the side of people when they’re out and about and everyone is trying to be at their very best, but also the not-so-perfect moments that we have as human beings. All of the times when we lose our temper and flip out without thinking; the times we’re so overwhelmed that we’re not sure what direction to even take our next step in; the hardest of times that will only fortify us with an even stronger, more protective outer shell for life’s future battles.

Both Wein and Lister-Jones do a fantastic job all-around; it can’t be an easy task to make a movie this small, with hardly any budget…let alone one that shines a spotlight on your own most personal moments as a couple. Both actors deliver wonderful performances without question, but it was Lister-Jones who I really fell for while watching this movie. She really throws it all out there for all to see; from some great moments of humor, to random snaps of anger, and some incredibly heartbreaking moments of anguish, she really holds nothing back and it all translates perfectly to this tiny independent film.

I have to take the time to commend the surrounding actors as well. Instead of casting anyone, they cast a lot of friends and some distinguished talents while staying withing their small budget, and you can’t deny the positive effect their choices play in the final product. Especially when it comes to Daryl and Zoe’s parents, who were all played by said distinguished talents, and all did a marvelous job highlighting the negative ripples that a breakup can cause throughout a family. Zoe’s mother Helaine, played by the excellent Andrea Martin, was also particularly memorable as a laid back and wise women who gives it to you straight doesn’t have time for life’s B.S.

If the fact that this real-life couple wrote, directed and starred in a very well-made, well-executed film about their own very personal love lives wasn’t admirable and impressive enough for you, Lister-Jones even handled a lot of the great original music for the film along with composer Kyle Forester, which included singing some of the songs. Talk about a multi-tasking duo. Have you ever seen Scorsese star in his own films AND sing songs on the soundtrack as well? I’m just saying!

Breaking Upwards is a simple movie. There’s no major plot twists or complications going on here, just the story of two people who mean the world to each other but fear that they’ve reached the limits of their romantic relationship. When you begin the film, you have to assume that these two know what’s best, and that their decision is likely the most logical thing to do. The appeal comes from the above-mentioned chemistry that you see shining brightly on the screen, and as the movie plays, it’s hard not to want to scream out at them and cross your fingers that they find a way to work things out somehow.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to see some of these much smaller independent films more often lately, and I might never have even heard of otherwise. It’s movies like this one that make that as exciting as it is. For one: I get to see smart, moving pictures like Breaking Upwards; and also, because I get to share the wealth with you guys and help point your eyes in the right direction.

The film will hit theaters in limited release on April 2, 2010, and will be expanded to more cities after that. If you can’t catch in theaters, it will also be released on VOD if you’d rather check it out that way. The soundtrack is available on iTunes.

Be warned, this trailer has one naughty word. So…I suppose that one split-second would not be safe for your working environment.


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