Heather Tobin’s first feature might have caused waves if released a decade ago. But with so much similarly themed work on all sides of the gender divide, To Each Her Own produces barely a ripple in the angst-filled pool of coming to terms with one’s sexuality.
Self-described by the filmmaker prior to its Ontario première as “very, very independent … made for $10,000 on credit cards,” the film frequently succeeds visually but strikes out in three other vital areas.
Least offensive, but still of great importance to viewers, is the music-to-dialogue balance. While many of the varied tracks reinforce the storyline and add spice to the extended romance sequences, they are too often heard at the expense of drowned-out lines—perhaps a remix might improve comprehension.
Sadly, the cliché-ridden speeches always get through clearly: “Sometimes love isn’t enough” is so threadbare that, like the “hey” greeting (which seemed fresh in the early episodes of the 1998-2002 Felicity TV series) should be banished to scriptwriting purgatory.
On the positive side, the two main characters Jess (Hannah Hogan)—married twentysomething uneasy in her sexual skin—and Casey (Tracy Rae)—insatiable sexual diva still searching for a relationship that lasts more than a month—are real finds for the camera. Their wistful/probing looks of infatuation, sudden love, fear and despair wordlessly provide the film’s finest moments.
There are other characters (including Dave, the affable dyke-hag slut; Don Berns is the long-suffering father who knew his sports-loving daughter played for the other team long before she accepted the notion; Christina March as close friend Ann represents the double-your-chances bisexual of the small town younger set), yet nearly everyone is a strict stereotype, lacking nuance or complexity that is so much more common in the “real” world. More subtlety, please.
Which leaves husband Trevor (Shaughnessy Redden). His underdeveloped critical-to-the-plot personality is the prime example of the greatest flaw: believable action/reaction. What would any doting spouse (valiantly trying to impregnate his bride at the peak of her ovulation cycle) think when his lover/best friend suddenly dashes out to meet a business colleague then doesn’t return home until 3:00 a.m. (having had dinner, long chat and a spectacular roll in the hay: “not completely heterosexual”—see cliché, above)? Despite catching her in a lie (always alert your backup alibi prior to the deceit), Jess instantly creates whoppers like a seasoned professional (eliminating Trevor’s real anger in what has to be the world record for converting outrage and indignation to “How ‘bout getting back to making babies?”).
Later, both the set-up for the unmasking (courtesy of an antique answering machine, which allows Tracey to vent her anger at being rejected for all to hear) of his website-developer mate’s long-running, full-service affair is dissipated with a couple of tears, semi-confession (“I just wanted to see what it’s like … only once.”). Hearing all of this, the dutiful dad-to-be (guess when the conception took place!) sums up the relationship-altering revelation with two words: “OK then.” Yikes!
If only we could start with our second début (please excuse the worn-out expression).
Still, there’s enough talent smouldering in this production that a further outing should be contemplated. JWR