Short of the Week

We’re Having Sex

David and Kate’s sex life is on the wane. In an effort to save their relationship, they decide to raise the stakes: have sex that night or break up.

When it comes to break-ups, Hollywood so often gets it wrong. Relationships don’t usually end in bombast—you know, those tearful, melodramatic goodbyes and/or grandiose shouting matches. Rather, more commonly, people just sort of drift away from one another.

As a low-key follow-up to another recent break-up film selection, All’s Fair, (a pensive ying to the latter film’s ostentatious yang), Michael Callahan’s We’re Having Sex is a character piece at its core. Shot in essentially one location and only focusing on two actors, it’s a slow build examination of a relationship that has gotten stale and on the verge of puttering out. There are no bedroom window boom boxes or car crashes or farewells in the rain. This about the love between two people ending, and just how damn unceremonious and uncomfortable that can be.

While that description sounds terribly depressing, it would be a misnomer to classify Callahan’s film as such (at times, it’s actually really funny). Moreover, it just feels “real.” Both characters are likable enough—this isn’t a story of two people moping around and being miserable for 13 minutes. They kibbitz and share similar interests. They still enjoy each other’s company. The sadness only sets in because we see the remnants of a once vibrant relationship that has since disintegrated. Now, our protagonists are more roommates than lovers. They stick together because its comfortable—familiar companions who eat spaghetti dinners on Sunday (Spaghetti Sunday!)  and watch reruns of Arrested Development. To put it succinctly, with the film, director Michael Callahan was looking to explore the “undramatic” ways in which many relationships end.

That being said, the film’s climax (both literal and physical)—the payoff  when the characters have to follow-through on the film’s central “have sex or break-up” wager—is incredibly emotional and dramatic. Shot in a single long take, it’s an unblinking moment that is a big ole’ mess of depressing awkwardness. It’s uncomfortable to watch, but also quite resonant (major kudos to leads Brandon Bales and Hannah Pearl Utt for pulling it off. They both have chops.). Although the film doesn’t give us a firm conclusion, one the thing is clear: the future of this couple doesn’t look all that bright.

Callahan shot the film over the course of two days on a shoestring budget, completing the project, including post production, in 3 months. He’s currently hard at work on a slew of other creative endeavors. Be sure to keep up with his work on vimeo.

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Ivan is a filmmaker, video editor, and motion graphic artist from the Washington, DC area. He is an avid movie watcher and podcaster. He’s also quite handsome and charming (at least that's what his Mom says). For more information about Ivan, visit Lucky 9 Studios.
  • Ami Kismet

    Wonderful. I wasn’t sure how to feel at the end. Not exactly depressed because it is obvious things were going downhill for awhile. Not happy, for the same reason. I think her face at the end just is the epitome.

  • Ami Kismet

    Wonderful. I wasn’t sure how to feel at the end. Not exactly depressed because it is obvious things were going downhill for awhile. Not happy, for the same reason. I think her face at the end just is the epitome.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Powerful film and painful at times—a very nuanced look at a modern relationship.

  • Anonymous

    So poignant. Absolutely spot on how it portrays the end of a relationship going out with a whimper.

  • stompton4000

    Brutal and wonderful. Watch this with someone else, so you can each turn to the other after the final frame, let out the breath you were holding, and say, “Man.” A conversation piece for sure.

  • stompton4000

    Brutal and wonderful. Watch this with someone else, so you can each turn to the other after the final frame, let out the breath you were holding, and say, “Man.” A conversation piece for sure.

  • james

    Not a criticism, but it should be said that the camera is much closer to Kate. Her inner life is easy to understand. David remains a mystery, and I was left thinking more about him than her.

  • Celluloid_Strigidae

    perfectly poignant. visuals characterize the couple beautifully. If only the sound was better.