Euro fashion photographer Denis Piel makes a self-effacingly austere jump to features with this documentary about a young couple’s first year of marriage. Perhaps too low-key for U.S. broadcast tastes, effective outing looks apt for fest and foreign TV play.
First glimpsed at their wedding, Margaret and Armand Bakalian are an attractive, affectionate pair of 30-ish professionals with one notable characteristic — both are congenitally blind. This aspect, however, proves less central than more universal difficulties experienced in early wedlock.
Armand has left a successful N.Y. career as computer programmer to join his personnel analyst wife in her suburban Sacramento home. Adjustment to this new life is complicated, however, by his frustrated attempts to re-enter the job market. Margaret has a full plate already. She’s an accomplished flautist; she takes ballroom dancing lessons (Armand briefly joins her); her twin sister lives nearby.
Wanting the marriage “to work so desperately,” Armand still can’t help but feel increasingly useless. “I can’t be everything — your mother, your wife, your hobbies,” Margaret says, feeling suffocated. “Can’t you back off a little?” Happy occasions — a surprise birthday party, sister’s new baby, Margaret’s own pregnancy (though she soon miscarries) — fail to resolve larger problems. Nonetheless, ending finds duo still committed to a shared future.
Film sports a sometimes painful intimacy, as subjects let camera follow them right into the bedroom. Yet director’s strict focus (eschewing narration or commentary from friends, family and co-workers) sheds limited light on their psychology. Margaret’s cheerful-to-a-fault manner — she actually snaps “Don’t worry, be happy” during one dinner-table conflict — in particular invites greater scrutiny.
Pace is slow and deliberate, resulting in a certain dullness when Armand’s troubles slip from center stage in the last half-hour.
Tech values are unobtrusive but pro.