By adam chaffin
January 13, 2012
Writer-director-actor Edward Burns is more recognized for his onscreen roles in movies such as Saving Private Ryan, 15 Minutes, Confidence and the upcoming thriller Man on a Ledge. However, to independent film lovers, Burns is known for his Irish-American, Grand Jury Prize-winning, Sundance Film Festival favorite The Brothers McMullen, the ultra “no-budget” film Nice Guy Johnny and now, Newlyweds.
Mr. Burns has been causing quite the stir during the Tribeca Film Festival and other small festivals by releasing Newlyweds on several different platforms simultaneously. These include a small theatrical run, iTunes, Amazon, VOD and a DVD release in March. He shot the film using the low-priced Canon 5D and a small two- to three-man crew, and had his cast wear their own clothes and do their own makeup. Burns has also utilized social networking channels by spending no money on marketing and instead promoting on Twitter, Facebook and Livestream. No matter how microscopic the budget, Newlyweds is a small gem of story-telling, with colorful, true-to-life characters, witty dialogue and relatable situations.
Newlyweds begins with two couples having a conversation over brunch discussing the pitfalls and hurdles of marriage. The newly married couple, Buzzy and Katie (Ed Burns and Caitlin Fitzgerald), are both on their second marriage and are more casual and realistic about what they are expecting from their vows. On the other hand, Katie’s sister, Marsha (Marsha Dietlein), and husband, Max (Max Baker), have grown tired of their 19-year marriage; it is beginning to grow stale and they are realizing they don’t especially like each other now that their son is off to college. To shake things up, Buzzy’s long-lost half sister Linda (Kerry Bishé) shows up in New York from Los Angeles with little advanced warning and wants to crash at his place while she tries to track down a long-lost lover.
Over the next 90 minutes, the audience begins to watch the two couples' relationships unfold in an intimate faux-documentary style (jump-cuts included). Set solely in Tribeca, a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, Newlyweds recalls Burns' own Sidewalks of New York, an homage to the Woody Allen film Husbands and Wives. Burns is by no means breaking new ground with this picture, other than the impressively simple production. However, he does shed light upon many common issues couples new and old may face throughout their lifetime. Many may cringe for Buzzy when he must choose to becompletely honest with his wife, as they have both agreed to tell eachother everything within their marital relationship, even though telling all will also mean selling out his sister.In another scene, Max is so unfazed and beaten down by his cold wifethat he openly flirts with a younger woman. The audience grows sympathetic and anxious as his wife is seen watchingfrom another room, and soon thereafter confronts and chastises him. These and other scenes from Newlyweds give an up-close view of the struggles of making marriage work, and how family—no matter how loving—can create tension within theserelationships.
All in all, Newlyweds is a small slice of New York life and a portrait of couples facing new terrain in different points in their marriage. The film is full of genuine insight and wit, realistic and passionate characters and a superb, well-acted script. If you’ve enjoyed previous Edward Burns films or are up for talky Woody Allen-like fare, Newlyweds may be a match.
Adam Chaffin is a young filmmaker, actor and radio show host currently living in DC metro area. Follow www.twitter.com/virginiarunning.