Radical Honesty

By Bianca Poletti | Comedy
A guy and girl are on a great date. Then he reveals his open relationship...

Jack and Rachel are on a great date, really connecting and enjoying one another's company. They finally end up at a late-night diner, where they bond over a disenchantment with traditional relationship structures and wonder what the next step is for the pair.

As they figure it out, Jack reveals the reality of his "radical" open relationship, which makes figuring out what comes next a little more complicated. As Jack and Rachel hammer it out, things take a turn for the absurd.

Directed by Bianca Poletti from a script written by co-lead actor Allison Goldfarb, this short "anti-romantic" comedy has a biting intelligence and sardonic humor, as what seems like the tail-end of a perfectly nice date skews absurdist. It begins with an almost nostalgic long-take shot of a diner, complete with a 1950s girl group-style song playing, that gives the film a certain jauntiness, though the style is undercut with a darker, murkier sense of color and light. Along with razor-sharp writing and performances, it deftly presents a missive of modern-day dating, where seemingly progressive notions clash with opposing desires.

Rachel is presented as a liberated woman, telling an anecdote that illustrates her frankness and forthrightness about her body and herself, and Goldfarb plays her with supreme self-possession and confidence. Embracing her desires, she asks Jack if he's interested in going back to her place. But when Jack reveals he's in an open relationship, it opens up a more philosophical question about monogamy, pleasure and freedom.

Both Jack and Rachel seem on the same page in their distaste for traditional relationships. But then Jack reveals that he must check in with his primary girlfriend, which opens up a schism between theory and reality that the film mines for humor and social insight. Suffice it to say, things may not be as cool or easy in his open relationship as Jack implies. And as he and Rachel negotiate a possible tryst, he lays down other conditions that Rachel isn't into -- and it becomes clear that a seemingly equal open relationship isn't as equitable as touted.

Rachel stays true to character at the end of "Radical Honesty," ending the film on an ironic, drily funny note. The date may be a future droll anecdote for Rachel to tell on a future date, but in the context of the larger film, it's also a small masterwork of how easily ideas and language around freedom, social experimentation and liberation can be twisted and manipulated in service of age-old agendas. Luckily, Rachel never questions her boundaries or her needs for respect -- notions that will never go out of style and may be more necessary than ever.

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