Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family

"Weak"

Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family Review


The miscalculation that documentary director Susan Kaplan (Small Wonder) made when she decided to record her three friends' unorthodox domicile arrangement that looked a lot like a three-way marriage wasn't in thinking a film of it would make an interesting record of a rare experiment, but that it should be stretched to 97 minutes. Fascination turns into overkill well before that time is exhausted, as we are along with it.

Sam Cagnina and Steven Margolin are, from all appearances, bisexual men. They were living harmoniously together when Sam suggested a woman should be brought into the equation. Steven went along with it and, after a couple of extended tryouts that failed, they found Samantha Singh, a struggling actress from India who was ready, able, and of the right temperament.

It isn't long into the piece that we see it's going well, and that she's happy with her two guys, luxuriating in endless attention and caring. For awhile, in fact, it looks utopian -- connubial bliss for the alternative set. Anyone not obsessed with moral issues might be happy for them.

All three are expressive subjects for Kaplan's camera, and articulate all the shadings, difficulties, and rewards of their arrangement. They do so honestly enough that we don't suspect a hidden agenda or creatively devised scenario. These people are living this life, and verbalize it in all its domestic detail.

The parents of the three are brought into the scenario for their various reactions, which vary from embarrassment to full acceptance and understanding.

That contribution aside, wouldn't you know the cozy configuration couldn't last forever? The beginning of the end occurs at the birth of their first child. The issue arises as to which guy is the biological father. At first, this is treated with the same camaraderie and comedic interplay that has sustained them so far. The men formalize the relationship by proposing marriage to their housemate-lover, who accepts joyfully. Sam learns later that legally he's considered a stepfather, a status that bugs him more than he lets on at first.

By the time of Samantha's second pregnancy, the harmonious part of the experiment has run its course. Steve leaves; bitter divorce issues test the nerves of their mediator; questions of custody and visitation are resolved with grievances and pettiness.

One can hardly imagine many individuals who could put households together in this fashion, nor ones who would be so amenable to a camera crew hanging out in order to record the next piece of insight or soundbite of self-revelation. While enjoying their 95 minutes in the sun, the participants try to avoid giving an impression that they're exhibitionists at the core, but fuggedaboudit -- it's unavoidable.

Prurient, domestic, sociological, and/or psychological interest will likely draw audiences prone to a little voyeurism. But repetition takes over, and it becomes too tiring for serious concern. A trend or role model for humanity, this study in alternate lifestyle is not. Ah, well, another day in reality, TV that is.



Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family

Facts and Figures

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 2nd June 2005

Box Office Worldwide: $19.7 thousand

Distributed by: ThinkFilm

Production compaines: Cactus Three, Thinkfilm

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Sarie Horowitz

Starring: Sam Cagnina as Himself, Steven Margolin as Himself, Samantha Singh as Herself

Also starring:

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