Combustible Celluloid
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With: Zoe Lister Jones, Daryl Wein, Julie White, Andrea Martin, Peter Friedman, La Chanze, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Olivia Thirlby, Pablo Schreiber, Heather Burns, Tate Ellington, Francis Benhamou, David Call, Sam Rosen, Max Jenkins
Written by: Peter Duchan, Zoe Lister Jones, Daryl Wein
Directed by: Daryl Wein
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 88
Date: 03/01/2009

Breaking Upwards (2010)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Daryl & Zoe's Day Off

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's a homemade New York romantic comedy, part John Cassavetes and part Nora Ephron, but Breaking Upwards centers around a pair of three-dimensional, neurotic, interesting characters and has a strong, certain rhythm that sets it apart.

Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones co-wrote the screenplay together and star as Daryl and Zoe, a young couple with a four-year relationship under their belts. A short montage suggests their routine together: some uninspired sex, sharing a bathroom, checking text messages over breakfast. They decide to "take a break," which consists of three days off each week from one another, including sleeping at their respective parents' houses.

Zoe (looking a teeny bit like a young Barbra Streisand) is an actress currently cast in a play; she becomes interested in her co-star, a tall, aggressive type whom she must kiss on stage (he uses the kiss as a way to get together to work on "notes"). Daryl is a writer and spends his time obsessing about the breakup and arguing with his even more neurotic mom (Julie White), though he also meets a couple of girls, including cutie-pie Erika (Olivia Thirlby). Everything comes to a head over the Passover Seder, and the ending -- refreshingly -- isn't quite what you might expect.

Wein serves as the film's director and editor and he concentrates on moods and rhythms more so than visuals, though he does get a nice sense of New York. Instead, he zooms in on faces and behavior, eye contact and tentative little movements toward and away from others. He rarely steps wrong, and even the most oddball character feels like they could be living next door.

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