Confusions of an Unmarried Couple is my first encounter with the Butler Brothers, who are quickly rising in the Indie ranks with their talky, and often profane, films about relationships and sex. My initial feeling after the screening was as if I had just discovered a stock that’s about to make a run. These guys have the skills, and in a time of monotonous, poorly executed, and introspective-free Hollywood romantic drivel, there’s plenty of opportunity.
The setup is very simple. Dan (Butler) and Lisa (Johnson) have broken up – angrily. As the film opens Dan has clearly been holed up in his apartment for weeks, sucking down cheap soda and pizza. He misses his girl, even after all the bitter disputes. Dan devises a plan: Stop by Lisa’s apartment to claim some of his stuff and maybe they’ll see the err of their ways and get back together. What follows is a series of conversations, confessions, and an honest descent into the makeup of a relationship.
Co-director / writer Brett Butler’s script takes center stage. Pulling no verbal punches, Dan and Lisa talk to each other like a real couple in dire straits does. This includes cheap insults, out-of-line accusations, and a whole lot of sex talk. Some may be offended by the liberal use of such banter, but there’s no denying its authenticity. Adding to that is the seamless chemistry between Butler and Johnson, who trade barbs like seasoned pros. Butler has a natural gift for comic timing while Johnson plays off his mistakes with some daggers that would send most guys racing for the door.
Considering the budget restraints and essentially one location, the film has a very sharp look. The Butlers make maximum use of the apartment, utilizing a variety of camera angles and techniques that always keep the feel fresh. The only missteps come in the form of the confessions, which overstay their welcome a bit. While necessary to the story, they give the film a reality-style vibe that doesn’t always wash well.
Confusions of an Unmarried Couple delves deeper than your average romantic comedy (or anti-romantic comedy, depending upon how one looks at it) and gets just as many laughs. Make no mistake about it; the film plays best for the crowd who likes their comedy crude and deliberate. The product is a great sense of realism and honesty. Keep your eye out on the festival circuit for this film. And definitely keep an eye on the Butler brothers.
Note: Check out the production company website, Substance Production, for more details on the Butler brothers’ films.
Studio: Substance Production
Length: 73 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Theatrical Release: April 14, 2007 (South Bend Independent Video and Filmmakers Festival) / June 1, 2007 (Swansea Film Festival)
Directed by: Brett M. Butler & Jason G. Butler
Written by: Brett M. Butler
Cast: Brett M. Butler, Naomi M. Johnson