By Kim Hughes
It’s the simplest, most fundamentally human thing in the world. Yet sex sure can be complicated. Also, the best-laid plans invariably go awry, especially when they involve something as potentially fraught as sex.
That’s two key takeaways in the sharp comedy A Swingers Weekend which also briskly examines what it means to be married and how our deepest desires are easily supplanted by the mundane stuff lurking in every household.
The set-up is straightforward-ish: two stable long-term couples plan a partner-swap getaway weekend at a magnificent lakefront property. The hosting couple, Lisa and Dan (Erin Karpluk, Randal Edwards) want to spice up their marriage by swapping with foxy TeeJay and Skai (Michael Xavier, Erin Agostino) who have their own, rather different reasons for agreeing to the event.
Then a third couple arrives, something Dan didn’t billboard to the group. But Geoffrey and Fiona (Jonas Chernick, Mia Kirshner) change everything; namely because their marriage is on the rocks and Geoffrey didn’t inform perennially pissed-off Fiona of the weekend’s intent. Yup, sparks are going to fly.
As the couples pair off — increasingly sceptical Lisa with bumbling Geoffrey, Skai with smitten Dan, chill TeeJay with tightly wound Fiona — things distort and shapeshift as motives are revealed and insecurities exposed. There is sex, though less than might be imagined given the theme of the weekend. As in the real world, the ancillary stuff around the act is where the momentum comes from.
At this juncture, it would have been easy for filmmaker Jon E. Cohen to reduce his characters to caricatures and play them for broad laughs. But he doesn’t, instead focusing on the squirm-inducing inevitability of the scenario while spotlighting deeper truths. And his ending has a declarative punch, made more powerful by the genuine laughs that proceed it throughout the film.
A Swingers Weekend. Written and directed by Jon E. Cohen. Starring Erin Karpluk, Randal Edwards, Michael Xavier, Erin Agostino, Jonas Chernick, and Mia Kirshner. Opens April 27 for a one-week engagement at Toronto’s Carlton Cinema.