New to DVD this week:
After his public divorce (from the never-named actress Olivia Wilde), the filmmaker sets out to understand the nature of love, marriage, and monogamy.
At sea following the end of his eight year marriage, the strangely naive Ruspoli conducts an all-over-the-map survey of the current state of heterosexual relationships, desperately seeking clarity on why our society is so fixated on the ideal of monogamy when it clearly has a poor track record. What results is a talking heads parade of academics, authors, sex workers, sex therapists, and everyday people unpacking myths and misconceptions around love, sex, monogamy, and alternative relationship structures like polyamory, occasionally illustrated with weak re-enactments. Unfortunately, Ruspoli is committed to including his own story in this as much as possible, so he unnecessarily attempts to tie virtually everything back to his own story, or that of his storied family of Italian aristocracy – he himself was the product of the union between a married Italian prince and his American mistress. While this meta aspect yields at least one mildly entertaining subject in Ruspoli’s scene-stealing female cousin, it more often feels like self-indulgent filmmaking-as-therapy and an unneeded storytelling crutch. While offering an occasionally interesting tidbit about the sociohistorical roots of monogamy, the project ultimately comes off as a fairly standard survey film about a “big question” – and one that sadly can never adequately or satisfyingly fulfill its own mandate.