By Don Simpson | June 13, 2012
Director: Edward Burns
Writer: Edward Burns
Starring: Edward Burns, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Kerry Bishé, Marsha Dietlein, Max Baker, Johnny Solo, Dara Coleman
The film’s titular newlyweds — Buzzy (Edward Burns) and Katie (Caitlin Fitzgerald) — still appear to be happily married. Their secret: maintain a healthy distance and spend as little time as possible around each other. The credo “absence makes the heart grow fonder” seems to work quite well for Buzzy and Katie. It is abundantly clear, however, that Buzzy and Katie each have their fair share of baggage, including ex-lovers and needy family members. That said — it is not long before external forces begin to interfere with the blissful buzz of Buzzy and Katie’s seemingly idyllic life.
For one, Katie’s alcoholic ex-husband — Dara (Dara Coleman) — habitually stops by Buzzy and Katie’s home unexpectedly, looking for handouts. But, then, Dara is the least of their concerns…
Buzzy’s half-sister Linda (Kerry Bishé) — whom he has not seen in nearly a decade — shows up at their spacious Tribeca loft unannounced in a frazzled state of desperation. Nonetheless, Buzzy and Katie are amicable to having Linda crash at their place temporarily; but the amicability instantly turns sour when an inebriated Katie brings home a one night stand for some late night hanky-panky in the kitchen. And, yeah, that happens on her first night as their house guest.
Next, Katie’s older sister Martha (Marsha Dietlein) decides to divorce her husband of eighteen years, Max (Max Baker). Just as they are able to get rid of Linda, an equally challenging new house guest — Martha — moves in with Buzzy and Katie.
So, maybe the secret to a happy marriage is not absence from each other, but sheltering one another from the negativity and stress associated with family concerns? Eventually, Buzzy and Katie must find a way to regain control of their relationship, which means finding a way to escape all of the interference from their families. Their only hope is to retreat into a state of seclusion in order to get themselves back on track.
Shot on a purported $9,000 micro-budget, writer-director Edward Burns utilizes a cast of mostly unknown actors and a three-man crew. Simplicity and authenticity are they key to this small, talky Tribeca-centric film. In a consorted effort to escalate the realism to documentary proportions, Burns relies heavily upon confessional videos to convey the actors’ innermost feelings and desires. This somewhat lazy directorial device is intended to establish an excuse for the film’s backbone of expository monologues.
Newlyweds is intelligently written and extremely relatable. Even those of us who have never been married will probably recognize many of these situations and conversations. It all boils down to the fact that Newlyweds is an actor’s film — a film written and directed by an actor with plenty of meaty roles for his cast. Burns and Fitzgerald share a convincing amount of chemistry and spark as the newlyweds, while Kerry Bishé, Marsha Dietlein and Max Baker are all quite impressive in their supporting roles.