Film Review – This Is Ours
Kris and Lindy Boustedt’s This Is Ours (2012) tells the story of married couple Karen (Karie Gonia) and Will (Ernie Joseph), and their trip to their vacation home, which is now in foreclosure. Things are not right with Karen and Will; that special element that they once clung to when they were newlyweds is no longer there, and we sense that this trip involves more than just packing and leaving the vacation home for good. Whatever happened between these two must have been pretty serious, given that they can’t even play a game of Monopoly without launching into an argument.
Some studies have said that one of the biggest reasons couples break up has to do with money. While a reason is never truly explained in this film, my guess would be that’s what is going on here. Will has recently lost his job, and while Karen never says that their tension is because of that, when everything else is stripped away, I assume it would be one of the major factors. Monetary status and the idea of a “perfect life,” and how all that equates to being truly happy, are constant themes throughout the film.
Happy is not what Karen and Will are when we first meet them. The opening act of the film is a sober passage filled with deep hurt and regret. Karen and Will move throughout the house as if they were sleepwalking, barely being able to say what they truly feel or do anything to give them life. They constantly look at each other forlornly and routinely have flashbacks to how happy they were in earlier times. During one scene, Karen simply sits and stares off into space as she lets the kitchen sink fill with water, and during another, Will has a vision of himself talking back at him about everything that is wrong with his life. At one point, I desperately wanted one of them to at least crack a smile or show some semblance of levity.
Thank goodness we are introduced to the second married couple in the film, Eric (Mark Carr) and Sandy (Wonder Russell). Eric and Sandy live lives that are the complete opposite of Karen and Will. They do not care about money or commercialism, turn away from everything that has to do with capitalism, and embrace a more alternative style of life. They live in a camper and go wherever they want, usually just for the sake of adventure. Eric and Sandy are necessary components of the film; they add a breath of fresh air to what starts out as a very heavy movie, and they provide us (and Karen and Will) a different perspective on how things can (and should) be.
That different perspective is to, well, have fun. The middle section of the film is the strongest, as we see these four people interact with each other and just learn to have a good time. Of course, this includes taking risks, trespassing, and other not-so-safe activities. Karen and Will must be the most trusting movie couple to come along in some time, given how they easily let Eric and Sandy (people they literally just met) into their lives the way that they do. One particular wild night stands out with how they, shall way say, “share” each other’s ideas. When examined further, both couples are really searching for the same thing: the American dream, being content with what you are and what you have accomplished. The only difference is that they define that through two different lenses. I feel the best scene of the film involves a conversation between Sandy and Karen, where they share their hopes and regrets, and reveal deep down that they are much more alike than they are different.
The closing of the second act and progression into the third are the weakest parts of the film. It is during these scenes that hidden secrets and pent-up frustrations come exploding to the surface. That isn’t to say that the thoughts and feelings of the characters don’t ring true, because their reactions are normal ones that any other person would feel in their situation. It is the particular choices and actions they perform that didn’t come off believably to me. There are two emotionally intense moments, and both never truly worked for me. They either appear in contrast to what the character was initially set up to be, or reiterate issues that we already intuited earlier in the film. For a movie that benefits more from its subtlety and effectiveness without the use of words, these two scenes seem to go against the grain.
But those two issues aren’t enough for me to say that This Is Ours isn’t a well-made movie. Kris and Lindy Boustedt have created a story that attempts to seriously look at relationships at varying degrees, and have captured that with an interesting visual skill. The acting overall was effective, and while certain character actions didn’t completely gel for me, the way the filmmakers worked with the themes of “letting go” and “breaking free” showed that this was a project that they truly cared about.
Final Grade: B