At my first Sundance, I saw Like Crazy, a movie that spoke to me personally about long distance relationships and fighting through outside forces to stay together. When I got home I delved back into the then two previous films of Drake Doremus and found I really connected with the way he dealt with relationships. Now six films into his career, Newness applies that touch to a new modern phenomena. Newness is Like Crazy for open relationships.
Martin (Nicholas Hoult) and Gabriela (Laia Costa) both use Winx, Doremus’s riff on Tinder. They fall in love but when it gets tough, they decide to try an open relationship. This of course proves to be a temporary band aid as the complexities of third parties create all new problems.
Boy, Doremus and screenwriter Ben York Jones know how to capture the honeymoon phase. Martin and Gabriela’s courtship reminds me of Anna leaving a note on Jacob’s car and overstaying her visa for him. This time it’s not the immigration department keeping the lovers apart. In fact it’s their own obsessions with newness that leads them to experiment with dangerous games that could tear them apart faster than ambivalent monogamy.
The fights Martin and Gabriela have are just as brutal as Like Crazy. Martin has family secrets he’s guarded about and she pushes him to open up. They both have a mature honesty about their mistakes and you sympathize with their remorse. It’s strange for me to see people stick around when they hear hurtful news. In my experience people flee. It does amuse me that the source they turn to for validation warns them they misread her take on open relationships. That’s true too. People pick out the good parts and ignore the hard parts.
Trying honesty becomes toying with flirting around in a crowd to taking on a third partner entirely. The fact that they still struggle with honesty is the most telling. Perhaps all of the experimenting was a mask to avoid admitting their own needs. I can certainly relate to denying my own needs for someone. It manifests in different ways. I don’t need to be a swinger to see my similarities to Martin and Gabriela.
Hoult, in his second Doremus film, continues to prove he’s the heart and soul of a movie. Whether it’s the war boy in Fury Road or Beast in the X-Men, Hoult’s heart is growing exponentially, and it was already major in About a Boy. Doremus introduced me to Felicity Jones and Costa is an equally major discovery. The complement to Hoult’s heart and soul, she shows tough compassion in the heat of anger, and quiet resolve in the face of condescending people trying to change her.
It’s Doremus’s sexiest movie too. Like Crazy captured the young passion and Breathe In had a mature affair, but this is grown ups fucking. This is what I feel it looks like when I’m with someone I love. Hoult and Costa let their guards down and perform with passion and intimacy.
I am at a very different crossroads than Martin and Gabriela. I’m not obsessed with newness. In fact when I love something, I never stop loving it. Hence I’ve been watching The Simpsons for 28 years straight and my obsession with film has only deepened into my late 30s. In a relationship, I’m not worried I’ll get bored with someone. I’m worried a lifetime won’t be long enough to explore everything I want to explore with her. Yet I’ve been single for a little while, mostly by my own doing. Maybe that can be Doremus’s next movie.