Honesty Weekend: Review. By Trent Neely.
This drama-comedy chronicles the romantic woes of a group of friends. There’s Ada-Cruz Goodson and John Goodson (Natalie Ceballos and Evan Watkins respectively) who have been married for some time and have a child together. They find themselves in couples counseling due to a build up of resentment and communication issues. Because of these issues, they are encouraged by their therapist Dr. Digman (Allan Wasserman) to have a weekend where they are completely honest with one another.
Coincidentally, this weekend of honesty will take place at the same time as a gateway the couple are hosting with some of their closest friends who are having relationship troubles of their own. There’s Stella and Harry Simon (Dioni Michelle Collins and Adam Bartley). Stella and Harry are happily married but find themselves in conflict over the fact that Stella wishes to have a baby, while Harry is unsure about taking that next step in their relationship, creating tension and distance between them. Also in the group is Nate Falco (Pete Ploszek) the resident bachelor who is mocked by his married friends for his seemingly superficial approach to relationships.
The rest of the group are unaware however that Nate is in a serious relationship with a woman named Jack (Lorraine Pascale) who herself is married. Things become more complex when John’s childhood friend Delaney Danton (Sabina Gadecki) who has just gone through a break-up with her girlfriend, joins the weekend retreat as well. John’s friendship with Delaney has long served as a difficulty in his and Ada’s relationship, as Ada senses that John has always had feelings for Delaney. The film follows the ensemble as they reconnect, learn about one another, and try to deal with their issues.
Writer and Director Leslie Thomas takes care to show various stages of relationships and the differing perspectives of both those in the relationship, and the people around them. In the case of Ada and John, we are shown how the monotony of life and small arguments can snowball and create huge strains on relationships. With Stella and Harry, the audience is shown the divide that can occur when two people love each other, but are not on the same page in terms of what they want their goals or future to be. In the case of Nate, we see how hard it can be to open yourself up to a committed relationship after being a bachelor for a long time. In Delaney, the emphasis is on how people cope with the trauma of a break-up. All of these themes and stories prod into hard questions about relationships and how difficult it can be for people to navigate them.
Each cast member does a good job of presenting the idea that these are relationships that have existed for a long time and are complicated. This is due in large part to the strong chemistry the cast shares. Dioni Michelle Collins and Pete Ploszek give particularly strong performances. Collins is very convincing as a woman who deeply loves her husband but is also concerned that he and her do not share the same aspirations.
Specifically, Stella wonders whether her love for Harry makes up for the loss of never being a mother. Or if it would be better for her to divorce him and have a baby. Collins does a great job portraying this inner turmoil. For his part, Ploszek is very engaging as Nate, a character who clearly has long been mocked by his friends for his lack of romantic commitment. Nate however clearly sees that his friends’ relationships are not in all ways better than his, and he himself is trying to change. Ploszek captures this nature well.
Unfortunately, between the large cast, multiple storylines, and a roughly 90 minute runtime, the film is inherently limited in the depth and nuance with which any individual subplot or character can be explored. Consequently the film comes off as going through a checklist of predictable story beats: characters mock their friends’ romantic wowes, only to have their own flaws pointed out to them, or their mocking causes them or their partner to think about their own relationship troubles. Characters are tempted to cheat on their partners and have scenes with other characters tinged with sexual tension. Characters have an argument with their partner that seems like it will take a lot of time and work to resolve.
By the time the credits roll however, all conflicts are resolved due to partners having a sudden heart-to-heart, friends giving each other advice or pep talks on what they should say or do. In one story, outside forces literally come into the story and remove certain sources of conflict. This is not to say that anything that happens in the film is inherently a poor choice.
More that the burden of the scope of the cast and story makes the film feel like it is jumping around to various plots and characters quickly in order to resolve in time, This has the effect of making certain character realizations and plot points feel unearned.
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