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Monogamy
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Music video for "You Don't Know (Nat's Song)" by Rashida Jones with Bummer and Lazarus
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Collection of behind the scenes footage and outtakes with the cast & crew
  • Feature length screenplay by Dana Adam Shapiro and Evan M. Wiener

Monogamy


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Dana Adam Shapiro
Starring: Chris Messina, Rashida Jones, Meital Dohan
2009 | 99 Minutes

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.99 | Series: Oscilloscope Laboratories | Edition: #29
Oscilloscope Laboratories

Release Date: June 14, 2011
Review Date: June 11, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

Increasingly anxious about his impending marriage to Nat (Rashida Jones) and thoroughly bored with his day job as a wedding photographer, Theo (Chris Messina) establishes a hobby: he's hired by clients to clandestinely snap voyeuristic photos of them as they go about their days. Things go smoothly until a sexy exhibitionist (Meital Dohan) leads him into an all-consuming obsession. As Theo stalks her day and night, the woman's mysterious public trysts send him reeling, forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about his sex life at home.

MONOGAMY is an acutely observed portrait of a relationship on the brink, a timely tale of masculinity tested by fantasy and fear of commitment.


PICTURE

Oscilloscope Laboratories presents Dana Adam Shapiro’s Monogamy on DVD in its original aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc, enhancing it for widescreen televisions.

The image is a bit of a mixed bag, which is a bit of a surprise since this film was shot using a RED camera, but it’s possible some of the problems could be related to that. Generally the image is pleasing presenting sharp colours and excellent levels of definition, especially for DVD; I’m actually impressed with some of the fine details that manage to come through. And since the source is digital there are no instances of print damage.

Unfortunately the digital transfer is laced with artifacts with shimmering being the most frequent offender. Many patterns involving thin lines that appear in the film present heavy amounts of shimmering and moiré effects. Along with this there are also noticeable jagged edges and banding seems to be an issue in may spots within the film and shadows don’t blend well.

Compression noise is actually not a huge distraction except in darker scenes, but this is a common nuisance with digital photography so in that case I’m sure it’s an issue in the source.

In the end it’s a bit of a mess but it’s hard to say whether the blame lies within the actual transfer or if they’re issues that are from the actual filming, possibly enhanced due to the fact the image had to be compressed for DVD.

6/10

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AUDIO

The disc comes with both a 2.0 Dolby Surround track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track. I watched the film in 5.1 and then sampled the 2.0 track. It’s a subtle yet affective presentation, but unsurprisingly, considering the talky nature of the film, the focus of the audio is found in the front three speakers. But music (which is unsurprisingly made up of electronic noises fairly common in indie films of late) works its way between the speakers and the lower channel gets some heavy use during these moments.

The 2.0 track is also affective but the music and some sound effects are more aggressive in the rear speakers and the bass level isn’t as powerful.

Both are fine but the 5.1 track is the more pleasing of the two.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

A little light in the way of supplements but they’re generally all worth going through.

First is a “music” video for ”You Don’t Know (Nat’s Song)” which is the song Rashida Jones performs in the film. Yet again it’s performed by Rashida but it unfortunately sounds to be the same recording used in the film edited over clips from the film (including Rashida’s performance of it.) If you watched it in the film it’s not necessarily required to view/listen to again here.

Next are 3 and a half minutes worth of deleted scenes, divided into 3 chapters. I wont’ get in to too much detail as that would ruin a few things in the film but they’re worth viewing. Having said that, though, I can see why they were cut. The first one is actually cute (thanks entirely to Rashida) but would have unnecessarily padded a scene, while the second didn’t really fit stylistically and the editing just dragged it out. The third could have stayed but was a little obvious. Worth watching but they’re not really missed from the film.

Collection of Outtakes presents 3 individual sections. The first is less than 5-minutes worth of outtakes involving the cast and crew, and surprisingly they’re actually fairly funny, involving problems with ants on the set, a staring contest, a dog seeming to enjoy the act of licking fingers a little too much, and other general antics. The second bit, running less than 2-minutes, compares a practice Steadicam shot using members of the crew (whose names are shown on screen as they appear) with the finished product in a split screen presentation with the two sequences playing over top of one another. The final 33-second bit is the final shot that was filmed, with the crew all pouring in in celebration. None of it really adds anything but they’re actually amusing and somewhat interesting to go through.

Finally the entire 92-page screenplay is included here as a PDF file on the DVD. You can access it by popping the disc in your DVD-ROM drive on your computer and navigating to the “SCREENPLAY” folder located at the root of the disc.

Amy Taubin also provides a short essay found in the liner of the cardboard packaging. Also found here is an excerpt interview from an upcoming book called You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Married by Shapiro, which features a collection of interviews about (what I’m guessing based on the excerpt and the themes of the film) relationships and/or marriages that just ultimately didn’t work out. These two portions actually offer the most insightful extras in the release.

In general the features are fluff but they’re mostly interesting at least, with Rashida Jones’ (who I don’t think is capable of being not-adorable no matter how hard she might try) minor contributions the highlights (shame there’s no commentary or interview involving her.)

3/10

CLOSING

At least worth a rental. The film, which I wasn’t familiar with (so I guess that’s why I feel inclined to comment on it, which I usually try to avoid,) has some interesting insights into modern relationships, but it can be a little superficial, which is what makes the final “twist” so obvious (and I mean obvious) about 20-minutes or so in because you know ultimately what the film is going to be about. It can also be a little overly stylized, which one almost expects with debut fictional films (this is actually Shapiro’s first narrative film, but he is probably best known for his documentary Murderball) but I liked the performances and the story was engaging. I’ve come across some comparisons to Cassavetes but don’t know if I can go that far (a lot of it may be improv and dependent on the actors but it’s still a little too stylized and planned.)

The disc itself is fairly average, presenting a disappointingly middling video transfer and a slim number of supplements.




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