Some aspects of Paul and Gena’s relationship might leave you somewhat incredulous. For instance, the two of them have been together for well over a year, and they’re close enough that Paul wants to propose to Gena. Yet the film makes it seem like this Christmas vacation is the first time they’ve had a frank and wide-ranging discussion about anything significant, be it their sexual needs, their exes, or their views on religion and romance.
Even if its logic proves a bit faulty, however, Evergreen ably captures one important idea: relationships are messy. Far from being completely happy or completely at odds, Paul and Gena repeatedly oscillate between affection and combativeness. A scene where Paul questions Gena’s commitment is followed by one in which they get high and dance in front of a fireplace together. Later, a humorous conversation about dreams abruptly morphs into a heated discussion about Dylan.
“…avoids the cheesy and definitive resolutions you often see in romance movies, but it also becomes quite poignant.”
In depicting these up and downs, Evergreen not only avoids the cheesy and definitive resolutions you often see in romance movies, but it also becomes quite poignant. We realize that both Paul and Gena want their relationship to work. Tragically, however, they both have memories of past relationships that they simply can’t wish away. And no matter how many times they say they love each other, neither of them can overcome insecurities about whether the other person is truly committed.
None of this exactly makes Evergreen an uplifting or pleasant watch. But like Before Midnight, the film does us a service by refusing to shy from hard truths about relationships. It’s ultimately a moving testament to love’s simultaneous preciousness and fragility – and, thanks to Kalina’s and Maddox’s acting, a spellbinding experience from start to finish.
"…a moving testament to love’s simultaneous preciousness and fragility."