#REVIEW: “PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL MONOGAMIST”
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Deliciously marketed as a “not another coming out story, but a fresh
coming-of-middle-age rom-com”, Portrait of a Serial Monogamist centers around Elsie (captivatingly played by Diane Flacks), a successful television executive with a history of breaking hearts. When she decides to end her long standing relationship with Robyn (Second City alum Carolyn Taylor) to pursue another woman, Lolli (Vanessa Dunn, beautifully channeling Joan Jett), her complacent life flip-flops. Elsie’s career may be at risk, her family and friends are not thrilled with her decision to end things with Robyn, her pursuit of Lolli is not going as swimmingly as she had hoped and she is now almost paralyzed with doubt as to whether her idea of leaving her loving relationship was the best thing for her to do.
There is much to admire about Portrait of a Serial Monogamist. It is refreshing to see a gay-themed Movie that focuses on real issues facing people of a “certain age” that is not pandering, judgemental, cliché-ridden or salacious. Diane Flacks has a genuine screen presence; she unobtrusively outshines her talented co-stars and is impossible not to watch and root for her and her character. Vanessa Dunn effortlessly exudes charisma and sexiness as well as vulnerability. But the true star of this movie, the one major character that shines high above the stratosphere, is the City of Toronto. Kudos to Cinematographer, Celiana Cardenas, for breath-takingly capturing the beauty of the City, from the trendy Queen Street West or the artistic flair of Kensington Market to the charms of neighbourhoods like Parkdale and Corktown, it is a visually stunning achievement. I predict many, many awards in this genius with a camera’s life!
Where the Movie does not succeed as well as we would like it to is in its puppy-like eagerness to please. First time Co-Writers and Co-Directors, Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell throw everything they must love about the movies on the screen and some of it is jarring and unsuccessful. Having Elsie sporadically break the fourth wall to talk directly to the audience is a cinematic trick that has not worked well since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I truly appreciated how Zeidler and Mitchell customized the roles for the performers they had hired, but many of them were unable to survive on screen with the tsunami that are Flacks and Dunn. Lastly, whereas there is an inherent intelligence with every character in Portrait of a Serial Monogamist, some scenes were groaningly amateurish in a bad sitcom way. One scene, centered around the funeral of a pet, was painful to watch and even though it was required to further enhance the plot, I just wished it had been approached in a more witty way, befitting the characters we were enjoying.
Those reservations aside, I do recommend seeing Portrait of a Serial Monogamist. The Movie’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses and I was charmed by it. It plays exclusively at the Carlton Theatre in Toronto. Check to see the dates and times.
(Photo credit: George Kozera)