Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family's island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack's drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris' sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.
Dispatched from his basement room on an errand for his widowed mother, slacker Jeff might discover his destiny (finally) when he spends the day with his unhappily married brother as he tracks his possibly adulterous wife.
Alex, Emily, and their son, RJ, are new to Los Angeles. A chance meeting at the park introduces them to the mysterious Kurt, Charlotte, and Max. A family "playdate" becomes increasingly interesting as the night goes on.
When Ethan is browsing the computer late in the film, he discovers a number of folders, each bearing the names of a couple who have visited the retreat. One of them is "Ted & Mary," a reference to husband & wife (and relatives of the director) Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen. See more »
Sophie takes a bottle of wine with her left hand, and the next shot shows her taking it with her right hand. See more »
So, we met at a party, and... it was magic. Within a half-hour we were driving up into this really nice neighborhood, and we were running down the stairs of some strangers back yard, and then we were swimming, and we were in love. What we didn't count on was that even though the lights were off, the owner of the home was there. And he came out screaming at us, and it was the greatest night of my life.
[they run and jump into the pool]
[continuing his story]
So me ...
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Greetings again from the darkness. Starting out with a typical marriage counseling session, director Charlie McDowell and writer Justin Lader lull us into a movie-going comfort zone based on our experience with such Hollywood fluff as Hope Springs and Couples Retreat. All that should be said at this point is ... not so fast!
A crumbling marriage and the subsequent lack of success with communication, leads therapist (Ted Danson) to recommend a weekend alone at a private country estate. The twists and turns that await Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), take marriage counseling to an entirely new spectrum. Sophie wants to reignite that early relationship spark and Ethan just wants things back to normal.
The setting does justice to the legend of beautiful California real estate, but things aren't all they seem as Ethan and Sophie bounce back and forth between the main house and guest house. It's in these moments where the big relationship questions are addressed ... and the script is smart, funny, creative and dark. It's not likely anyone can watch this without having some inner dialogue, and probably even some real discussion afterwards.
Mark Duplass ("The League", Safety Not Guaranteed) and Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men") not only carry the film, but also take on significant responsibility with wide-ranging personality traits and subtle physical changes. Duplass is exceptional and easy for most guys to relate to in how he handles the challenges. While I've never been a big fan of Ms. Moss, her performance here is quite impressive. Whether "together" or "apart", they complement each other nicely.
The closest comparison I have for this one is Ruby Sparks (2012), but this one will have you questioning what makes a relationship work and what should we really expect in our partner. The idea of recapturing the initial spark is absurd, but that doesn't lessen the need for realistic expectations. For the first feature from director Charlie McDowell (son of Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen) and writer Justin Lader, the unique and creative approach to such a complex topic make these two people to keep an eye on.
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