Wedding photographer Theo (Chris Messina) and his budding musician fiancée Nat (Rashida Jones) are a young couple living a comfortable life in Brooklyn. Thoroughly bored with his day job and increasingly anxious about his upcoming wedding, Theo embarks upon a risky and adventurous side project: he's hired by clients to clandestinely snap voyeuristic photos as they go about their days. Things go smoothly until a sexy new customer's (Meital Dohan) very public exhibitionism sparks an obsession in Theo. As he captures her day and night, the woman's mysterious trysts and illicit behavior send him reeling, forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about his sex life and his relationship at home.
A voyeuristic, extremely earnest look at The Way We Are Now, Monogamy
is an insightful take on modern relationships that occasionally succumbs to pretension. Director-cowriter Dana Adam Shapiro's film follows a frustrated wedding photographer (Chris Messina) who runs a side business where people pay to be covertly spied on, catching them unawares during their daily routines. After recording an extremely private moment with a mysterious blond woman, the photographer becomes quickly obsessed with her, endangering his already precarious relationship with his fiancée (a very good Rashida Jones). Shapiro, who previously codirected the exceptional documentary Murderball
, proves to be exceptional at transferring over the nonfiction feel, creating a living, breathing Brooklyn chock full of interesting bit players. Unfortunately, the filmmaker proves less successful when dealing with his main story, with a protagonist whose whiny self-absorption makes him increasingly hard to sympathize with. (Those with hipster aversions should be aware that Pabst Blue Ribbon does make an appearance.) That said, the idea of technology on couples is certainly a provocative one, which should have most viewers wincing in recognition at various points. (The DVD supplements include a fascinating snippet of interviews from the filmmaker's book on the same subject, due out in 2012.) Characterization stumbles aside, Shapiro's insights make for a frustrating, rewarding film that works best when it's between plot points and just observing how people interact. --Andrew Wright