MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MARRIAGE -- Indie Animated Film Tells Conventional Story Refreshingly Unconventionally
Review by Sean Boelman
Animation is an interesting medium in that, in the right hands, it can offer one of the most expressive canvases for an artist to work on. Despite its conventional story, My Love Affair With Marriage nevertheless feels distinctive thanks to the unique voice and style of its filmmaker, Signe Baumane.
My Love Affair With Marriage follows a young woman who sets out on a journey to find love, only to discover that conforming to the expectations society has placed on her might not be all that it was cracked up to be. Almost episodic in nature, Baume’s storytelling is like the verses of a song, unfolding in an almost rhythmic manner — fitting, given that it is a musical.
However, viewers should not go into the movie expecting to hear catchy songs they will add to their playlists. Instead, the music serves a primarily functional purpose. They’re less showtunes, and more the type of songs you’d associate with lullabies or folklore, but they accomplish exactly what they set out to do.
Similarly, the film’s animation is not of the polished variety viewers have likely come to expect from more mainstream animated movies. However, the more crude, childlike approach to the visuals works extremely well within the context of the narrative, lending it the feel of a childhood fantasy that Baumane clearly hopes to create.
The film explores the themes typical of the coming-of-age genre: femininity, puberty, sexuality. However, the perspective from which Baumane tells this story feels honest and refreshing despite its familiarity. At once, Baumane’s tale feels universal in the emotions the characters experience, yet specific with regards to the context in which they arise. The balance this strikes is wonderfully intimate and beautifully poignant.
There are a lot of moving pieces in My Love Affair With Marriage — culture, history, mythology, and of course the core emotional arc — but Baumane manages to balance them all in a way that feels unexpectedly cohesive. One might worry that the filmmaker is biting off more than she can chew, especially by setting the story against the backdrop of something so big as the fall of the Soviet Union, but the movie immerses the viewer in such a way that it allows Baumane to work with each part of the story fittingly intricately.
The protagonist/narrator is voiced by Dagmara Dominczyk, whose serene voice is perfect for the role. She brings a great amount of emotional grounding to the role — balancing out some of the more whimsical aspects quite well. The supporting cast is rounded out by some recognizable names, including Matthew Modine, Cameron Monaghan, and Stephen Lang, but no one makes much of an impression.
My Love Affair With Marriage is one of the most impressive independent animated features quite a while, offering an idiosyncratic style and a rich exploration of its themes. It’s scrappy, but those rough-around-the-edges qualities are a large part of what makes the film so incredibly charming.
My Love Affair With Marriage hits theaters on October 6.