Monogamy | Movie review
A Blow-Up for 21st-century manchildren doesn’t quite come into focus.
The first fiction feature from the director of 2005’s hit documentary Murderball, Monogamy examines how a Brooklyn couple’s relationship grows troubled as the two plan for their wedding day. Theo (Messina) is a full-time photographer and Nat (Jones) is a part-time musician, and their grown-up hipster domestic bliss—loft apartment, perma-scruff, claims to have “not seen 9am since the ’90s”—seems solid enough.
But as the time comes to choose invitation fonts, Theo has commitment fears; he searches the imperfect unions of his friends and stilted interactions of his wedding-portrait clients for proof that long-term monogamy is impossible. Theo appears to find such evidence in an anonymous customer (Dohan) who hires him to photograph her public assignations from afar. The film turns into a Blow-Up for 21st-century manchildren: Fixating on the photos, zooming in on turned-back watches and disappearing wedding rings, he becomes obsessed with the mysterious woman while pulling away from Nat.
Monogamy doesn’t hold back in its portrayal of Theo’s weakness and doubts. He is, in his noncommittal way, a real asshole. It’s a bold choice that’s well-acted by Messina, but it’s one that makes it very difficult to care about the character’s romantic future, particularly when Nat is the latest in a recent line of film heroines content to wait with martyrlike patience for their men to decide they actually want to be there. Isn’t everyone too old for this?