TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Written and directed by Signe Baumane, My Love Affair with Marriage is an engaging look into what it means to be a woman and, as the title implies, the deep ramifications that marriage can have on one’s identity. The film centers on Zelma (Dagmara Dominczyk), who, from her childhood days, had always felt like an outcast and insecure in her skin. Dealing with outside pressure and her perceived shortcomings, Zelma’s relationships never seemed to pan out.
Her first relationship is with Jonas (Stephen Lang), who she meets at an art gallery. He initiates their interaction by flattering her, but ultimately, there is no foundation for their love other than Zelma’s immature susceptibility to flattery. But from this failure, she grows and learns that relationships need time to formulate. Then she goes to college and finds Sergei (Cameron Monaghan), who, due to infatuation, she falls in love with. Their relationship, however, crumbles due to the jealousy Sergei finds in Zelma’s success as an artist; her success as a woman offsets what he believes to be a stable dynamic between a man and woman.
Lastly, Zelma finds Bo (Matthew Modine), who seems the best possible person to marry. A foreigner who respects and cares for her. But eventually, Bo realizes he doesn’t want to be confined to what the world sees as a man, and without any malice, Zelma and Bo part ways, each knowing that they’re different but letting their relationship have a satisfying conclusion.
“…what it means to be a woman and…the deep ramifications that marriage can have on one’s identity.”
The story is quite simple, but a unique and creative presentation gives My Love Affair with Marriage its own identity. There’s a pleasing blend of stop-motion and 2D animation that, while it may take a bit of getting used to at first, leads to numerous visual gags that help get under the surface of the characters’ otherwise normal lives. The backgrounds, in particular, that the 2D animation is laid on top of, have a lot of detail and make the settings feel lived in.
The 2D animation shines the most with Zelma’s Biology (Michele Pawk), which is a character in and of itself. Zelma’s Biology commentates throughout, giving context to how/why Zelma and, at times, other characters are acting the way they do. Zelma’s feelings of self-doubt, love, and anger all get explained as she goes through life.
Where the movie’s shortcomings mainly arise would be in the music. The narration from Zelma’s Biology is tolerable since it gives worthwhile information that’s usually pressing to the plot. On the other hand, the songs simply break up the momentum, making it feel choppy at points. It also doesn’t help that most of the repetitive and summative music adds little.
However, with a strong, emotional core, My Love Affair with Marriage is still an imaginative narrative that looks at gender roles and identity. It’s mostly light-hearted, and sadly the tone can sometimes conflict with the deeper themes the film is trying to get across. But still, this animated movie makes up for any shortcomings with its overall style and atmosphere.
My Love Affair with Marriage screened at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.