Director: Edward Burns
Writer: Edward Burns
Cinematographer: William Rexer
By Jon Cvack
Another great, simple film from Ed Byrnes. Each time I try to guess the budget of one of these things I’m that much more surprised by how little it was done for. In this case Newlyweds was made for $9,000. It’s also the first time I’m deeply skeptical of this number. Even with all the favors pulled out of the woodwork I can’t imagine getting a finished product for this little money. Unless Byrnes held nearly every single major position, which is also possible.
It opens up with two couples arguing over what makes for a happy marriage. Buzzy (Edward Burns) and his girlfriend Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald) pride themselves on having a solid foundation for marriage. They have opposite working schedules, don’t see each other all that often, don’t have any needless fights or drama, and it all is going great. That is, until Buzzy’s debaucherous sister, Linda (Kerry Bishe), arrives in town, broke and pushing her alcoholism and promiscuity to new levels. Katie is annoyed. Aside from stealing her expensive and favorite coat, Linda is caught having sex in the kitchen. This creates a massive division which is exacerbated by Katie’s sister Marsha (Marsha Dietlin) whose own marriage is falling apart, creating a bitter and tunnel-visioned philosophy on all things marriage, and Katie's seemingly healthy relationship.
As always, Byrnes finds a way to fully engage us with the story, regardless of the stylistic tropes he chooses to adopt. It’s shot in that far-played out, docudrama style, complete with man-on-the-street interviews with all the major players. And yet while it’s incredibly annoying at first, you quickly forget as the story progress. The only issue is when characters repeat themselves nearly verbatim. In various scenes, Buzzy will say how much he hates or is annoyed with some character or other, only to give an on-the-street testimonial where he repeats this same exact point.
Regardless, Newlyweds takes a hard look at what marriage, or any relationship demands. There is no magic formula. Working opposite schedules, or having confidence that this next round will allow one to repair all the mistakes of past relationships is foolish. Things beyond our control always enter into the situation. Family, friends, truths, or patterns. As always, Byrnes is the rational guy who puts his foot in his mouth at the most inopportune times. He nails the character once again and for something so low budget and low key it’s a great story.
BELOW: Edward Burns takes the classic question, while pushing out the film
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