I Do…Until I Don’t falls short

Ed Helms (Noah) and Lake Bell (Alice). Courtesy of Merrick Morton.

I Do…Until I Don’t boasts an all-star cast but the laughs are few and far between.

Written and directed by Lake Bell, the film stars Bell, Ed Helms, Dolly Wells, Amber Heard, Wyatt Cenac, , Chace Crawford, with Paul Reiser, and Mary Steenburgen.

Vivian (Wells) is a documentary filmmaker and she’s going around Vero Beach, Fla., in hopes of finding some couples to be in her next film.  With lifespans getting longer and attention spans decreasing, Vivian believes that marriage needs to be rebooted–a seven-year deal with an option to renew.  Vivian finds three sets of couples for her film and all of them are at different stages in their lives.

There’s Alice (Bell) and Noah (Helms).  These two are approaching ten years of marriage and are just starting to think about children.  After ten years together, their relationship has reached a dead end unless they do something to change it.  Meanwhile, Alice’s sister, Fanny (Heard) is in an open marriage to Zander (Cenac).  They think the open marriage plays a key role in their happiness.  Finally we have Cybil (Steenburgen) and Harvey (Reiser).  The elder couple of the trio don’t know what the next stage of their life will bring now that their children have moved out.  Harvey even buys a motorcycle as a result of his mid-life crisis.

As Vivian tries to manipulate the trio, they each discover things about their own marriages.

For Bell, her own marriage influenced the screenplay.  This was, of course, after growing up with the thought that she didn’t want to stand in front of a crowd to make promises that might ultimately be broken.

“It’s precisely what I hadn’t personally investigated, and wanted to,” Bell says. “You often write about things that become therapeutic for you. That’s what I’ve found, at least. I feel very connected to this film. It’s very personal to me and my relationship, and my understanding of what relationships are.”

The film is described as being a perfect union of both indie and mainstream sensibilities but maybe they could have chosen to go in one direction or the other.  Bell’s a great writer, as evidenced by a screenwriting award at Sundance in 2013, but it’s just not on the same level that was to be expected in her sophomore outing as a writer/director, especially after writing and directing the superb In a World….  There is no denying that Bell brings an interesting observation and a unique sense of humor to the film.  It’s quite a different look at marriage than Couples Retreat was in 2009.

The Film Arcade opens I Do…Until I Don’t in limited theaters on September 1, 2017.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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