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.