Home Video Hovel: 2 + 2, by Sarah Brinks
2 + 2 reminded me a lot the Saturday Night Live character on Weekend Update, “The Girl You Wished You Hadn’t Started Talking to at a Party”. She talks a lot about a lot of things but in the end says nothing insightful or important. 2 + 2 is that girl at the party. It isn’t a bad movie and I don’t think every film has to have an epic theme or moral but 2 + 2 skirts around some really interesting ideas but never goes far enough in any one direction to be satisfying.
The basic plot of 2 + 2 is nothing new. Two couples, one married with a child and the other not married but together for over ten years, are out at dinner one night when the unmarried couple admits that they are swingers. Richard and Betina have managed to stay in a committed relationship for over ten years by swinging with other couples. Married Emilia is intrigued and tries to convince her husband Diego to give it a try. They have a child and have been married for many years and some of the excitement is gone. Diego is very up tight and is not interested in swinging. He does end up going to a “swingers” party but has a panic attack and pulls Emilia away. In the end they end up “swinging” with Betina and Richard. At first they are really thrilled by their new escapade and find a renewed energy in their own marriage. Of course the inevitable happens and feelings get involved and people end up getting hurt.
The film touches on some interesting ideas but it is never interested enough in any of them to really explore them. Can a healthy relationship be made stronger by shared exploration with outside partners? How do we compartmentalize feeling of love versus the act of sex? Is monogamy the best model for a relationship because it is the most socially acceptable? A deeper exploration of any of these ideas would have added a much needed sincerity to the film. There is also an underexplored theme of male competitiveness addressed in the film. Richard and Diego are both acclaimed heart surgeons who run a clinic together. However it is Diego who always seems to get the credit and awards for their work. Richard, who is clearly the more masculine and sexually adventurous of the two of them, is put in second place behind Diego professionally. Diego who is happy in his committed marriage often fails to give Richard the credit he is due. I wish this had been fleshed out more and had been a bigger part of the eventual emotional blow-up between the couples.
The film is very well made and is beautifully shot. The performances in the film are also quite strong. There were a few moments in the film that felt a little hyper-real but I think some of that is a cultural difference between Argentinian and American cultures. For the most part it is all played very really real. Diego, the husband who is hesitant to swing, sometimes is hesitant to point of being over the top and borderline annoying but that is a character flaw. I find it is always a little difficult to judge acting when it is in a foreign langue, subtly is sometimes lost in subtitles, but all four of the main characters are seasoned actors and were convincing in their roles.
I don’t think 2 + 2 is going to convince anyone that swinging is a great choice to make in their relationship but it might make you think about what monogamy means to you. I wish the film had been a little more brave and gone a little further with its examination of relationships and the role of sex and monogamy. 2 + 2 is a fine film, it has some good performances and some laugh out loud moments but overall it had little to really say and was therefore fairly forgettable.