Posted: 05/03/2010


Breaking Upwards

by Elaine Hegwood Bowen

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Breaking Upwards is a movie about a young, real life New York couple who, four years into their relationship and battling codependency, decide to intricately strategize their own break up. The film loosely interprets a year in their lives exploring alternatives to monogamy and the madness that ensues. It begs the question: is it ever possible to grow apart together?

When I first started watching the film, I found it difficult for personal reasons. But after I really got into it, I liked it. Zoe and Daryl comprise the couple that decides they’ve had enough of one another, and it’s time to part ways. But they don’t have the nerve to just break it off completely and feel it’s better to take days off and find other things to do with their idle time.
Daryl took to watching after a neighbor’s young boy, taking him to the park and yoga practice. Zoe decided to pursue acting classes, only to become involved with one of her fellow students.

The idea works alright in the beginning, but after a while both Daryl and Zoe find other love interests, and that doesn’t sit too well with either of them. Breaking Upwards stars Daryl Wein (“The Hebrew Hammer”) & Zoe Lister-Jones (whose upcoming films include “Salt,” with Angelina Jolie). The two main characters wrote and directed the indie film.

Their parents and other actors are played by a great supporting cast that includes stage and screen actors Olivia Thirlby (“Juno,” “The Wackness”); Julie White (“Transformers,” “Transformers 2”); Andrea Martin (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”); Peter Friedman (“The Savages”); Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“The Lake House”); La Chanze (“The Color Purple”); and Pablo Schreiber (“The Wire,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”).

Initially I thought it odd that a couple would decide to “wean each other from one another” after four years, instead of just going “cold turkey.” But the movie is great, and I enjoyed watching the events unfold that eventually had the couple totally broken up. Now, I am not suggesting that the “breakup” was clean or even pretty. But the young couple seemed to grow during the course of the breakup, with the annual Seder being the event that sort of made the couple face the music and boldly announce that they were finally through. In the end, however, it’s important to note that while both Zoe and Daryl may have had to endure growing pains as they grew apart, they both seemed to be better people individually.

Breaking Upwards is available now on demand from IFC Films, as well as in select theaters. The film has been getting exceptional reviews. The New York Times recently described the film as “a thoroughly charming romantic comedy; and New York Magazine called it “sharp and affecting.”

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Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic dealing with a “regular” break up in Chicago!

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