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Episode 38 - Fling

posted Jul 26, 2018, 12:59 PM by Joreth InnKeeper

Fling (2008) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt1003010/ - Internet Movie Data Base
http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Fling/70111321 - Netflix
http://amzn.to/2ihbRfu - Amazon

This movie caused me quite some consternation because it had equal parts of "include" and "do not include" on the Poly-ish Movie Criteria List. In fact, it was so ambivalent that it prompted me to write the Guidelines post which became the first episode of this podcast, to help me decide whether or not to include it. I have decided that it should be included on this list, but I am very torn about that decision.

This movie started out as the very first "include" criteria - which is a relationship that appeared happy and functional between two people who enjoyed additional sexual partners besides each other. This movie ended with a tone that seemed to me to be suggesting that the only people who would be interested in open relationships are people who are immature, selfish users, and afraid to commit. The big problem I had with the movie is that the first half and the second half didn't mesh well. It almost seemed to me as though it was written by someone who knew people in happy and successful open relationships, who wrote the characters faithfully and well, but who had a personal belief that open relationships were wrong and so wrote an ending that he believed people in open relationships ought to have.

Naturally, in order to explain, I have to give out spoilers. But I'll leave a good deal of the details out so you can watch the movie without feeling as though you've already watched it.

SPOILERS:


Mason and Samantha have an open relationship and have been together for several years now. We start the movie with the two of them living together and getting ready to go to a wedding. At the wedding, both of them hook up with other wedding guests and then come back to their hotel room together, apparently totally comfortable with the fact that they were each with other people. They told each other everything and they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Later, Samantha starts dating someone (as opposed to just fucking someone) and she has to explain how her relationship with Mason works. I think this is a very valuable couple of scenes. Samantha is adamant that she is happy, that her relationship with Mason is secure and functional, that she is not a victim and chooses her life, and that jealousy is a symptom of insecurity. She faces someone who is disgusted and contemptuous of the idea of a woman having multiple sexual partners. I think she adequately defends her position and I think it is important to see the reception that people in open relationships receive when they admit to being in open relationships.

Meanwhile, Mason also has a friend who is completely disgusted and contemptuous of their relationship, to the point of appearing personally offended and violently angry about two people insisting that they are happy fucking other people even though he is not involved with either of those people. Again, I think it is important to see this kind of reception. Mason is not quite as good at defending himself, he mainly deflects the questions and accusations in an attempt to remain friendly with his buddy.

The assumptions from the opposition are fairly common - that the only reasons to get into open relationships are: 1) fear of commitment; 2) fear of being alone so willing to put up with being "cheated on"; 3) selfish; 4) using others for sex; etc. Mason and Sam do not appear to be these kinds of people. Their love for each other, their dedication to honesty, their obvious acceptance of each other's other partners (for instance, Mason gives a guy tips on how to hit on Sam when the guy comments about not having any luck without realizing that Mason is Sam's boyfriend and Sam reassures Mason's new girlfriend that it's totally OK to be at their house & to have fun together), their defense of their choices, their declarations that they are confident in each other's commitment to them - all suggest that this is a happy and functioning relationship.

Then the movie goes off the rails. Both of the main characters make decisions that seem totally out of character for the confident, happy people so far portrayed. Mason keeps a secret from Sam, and since Sam actually knows about it from the beginning, she lets Mason keep the secret, which poisons her own feelings about him to the point that she chooses her other boyfriend - y'know, the one who looks on her in disgust and contempt whenever he is reminded that some other guy puts his cock in the same place he does.

Mason is constantly accused of being a user and being afraid to commit, but, as my metamour, Maxine, pointed out to me, "yeah, so that sort of fear of commitment only makes sense if your definition of 'commitment' is to monogamy and being jealous and controlling of your partners", since Mason seems disinclined to leave his relationship with Sam. He seems pretty committed to remaining in his relationship with his partner, to me, he's just not committed to being sexually monogamous, which isn't a commitment that his partner is asking of him.  In fact, there was a scene where everything could have been resolved in a happy poly way, and given what I thought I knew of the characters before, I would have believed the movie if it had taken that direction, and I did not believe the characters choosing the other path.

The implication is that yes, Mason really was a selfish user who was afraid to commit and Sam really did want a traditional life. The problem is that I just didn't see them that way.  I do not think that the first half of the movie justified coming to that conclusion and I don't think that the characters were written or directed to make that a reasonable assumption or conclusion.

So, I have my guideline that says "if the moral of the story is 'polyamory is doomed to fail, here watch this train-wreck to see why' then it doesn't go on the list". But the main relationship in the movie wasn't a train-wreck. It was a pretty realistically functional one, in my opinion, until the two characters made, what I consider to be, out-of-character decisions that ultimately led to a train-wreck. So, I refined my guidelines to include movies that offered scenes of valuable situations, like coming out to family, introducing new partners to the concept of open relationships, discrimination, etc., all of which were in this movie, since a happy ending was never necessary to be included on the list. We do see a coming out to family scene; we do see an introduction to a new partner scene; we do see the negative reactions and assumptions of people about open relationships in several scenes; we do see a couple who defends their relationship choices in positive terms, such as being attracted to others not changing the love they feel for each other and feeling secure and confident about their relationship, and all of these feel fairly realistic.

Basically, this movie could be summarized as "this is what non-polys think of polyamory and open relationships, and how things are supposed to end for us". But that means that there really was a poly-ish relationship in it, which means it should go on the list. It also means that, if this is the case, then this movie would be valuable to the poly community to show what non-polys think of us and other non-monogamists.



You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

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