Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Separation City

Just for a change, the weekend after the film festival, we went to the movies again, this time because we were invited. We lowered the average age at the Pauatahanui Lighthouse, we think.

I've read a lot about Separation City. "Not a first date movie" "Bittersweet comedy" "Hilarious" "A movie about falling out of love for the first time". And also that Tom Scott first wrote it twenty years ago and that the scenery is great. I think if you're from Wellington it's probably worth seeing just to admire familiar landscapes beautifully shot.

The "Hero" of the story is Simon, 30-something father-of-two, who works at the Beehive as a ministerial advisor and is married to Pam. Pam and Simon's sex life is the doldrums and their friends in their age group have problems too - Keith's wife has decided she's a lesbian, and Katrien and Klaus another have split up because she caught him bonking another woman in the marital bed. Simon fancies Katrien, (she's beautiful, foreign, a cellist and above all available, so why wouldn't he) and they attempt an affair. Pam rumbles Simon and Katrien, and chucks Simon out. Meanwhile Keith starts a men's group and Simon and his best buddy Harry go along.

One of Separation City's problems is that it hasn't quite decided what kind of film it is. It might be intended as a comedy since it IS very funny in parts and has plenty of good lines. And it has lots of physical comedy that would do credit to any farce. However, the subject matter (separation) isn't intrinsically funny and the plot seems to indicate there's a serious story to be told so it isn't really just for laughs.

It might also be intended as a drama about separation. So why all the gags and why the happy ending? Graeme Tuckett said on National Radio today that it was a romantic comedy and that people who like romantic comedies will go to it. I'd say if its a romantic comedy you want there are much more uplifting feel-good options out there. The sex scenes are characterised by a complete lack of foreplay, and are generally unsatisfying for one or both parties which contributes to the lack of feel-good flavour.

My take on Separation City is that it's a story about the plight that ordinary relationships can get into, which most people can identify with to some degree or another (either recognising themselves or people they know) with lots of jokes thrown in to make it palatable and a happy ending so we don't go home too depressed.

It didn't quite do it for me - I laughed a lot, and I thought it was well-acted but it didn't hang together. Definitely a wait-for-the-DVD film.

Anne's rating 2.5/5

Separation City is not about separation, its mostly about infidelity real and contemplated. On the good side it is very funny in lots of places, with some serious bits in between. Like Anne, I was confused as to the overall intent of the film. While I enjoyed the jokes and the great bedroom farce scene, I personally thought there was too much voice over, which a more experienced stage / screen writer could have avoided. Perhaps Tom Scott should have teamed up with Roger Hall.

For me Danielle Cormack was the pick of the actors, she had by far the best body language. You could tell what her character (Pam) was thinking before she spoke. On the other hand her performance in her sex scenes seemed out of character.

For Wellingtonians the drive from Parliament to the airport via Eastbourne will seem unnatural!

Ian's rating 2.5/5

1 comment:

  1. Sarah8:46 pm

    I saw Separation City this morning with some complimentary tickets and thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed a lot, cried, and thought the scenery and colours very beautiful. I'm no film buff but it's the most I've enjoyed seeing a movie in quite some time. I think I'd even watch it again.