By Padmini Parthasarathy
Marriage has problems. Monogamy is hard. Gender roles constrict us all like unisex spanx. Polyamory fixes those problems for some people. And the concept has come into the mainstream, thanks to some new TV shows.
VITAMIN W got a chance to speak with director Joanna Coates about her latest film, "Hide & Seek," which depicts four young people attempting to turn away from society and live a life of love and harmony, without letting jealousy and negativity creep in. Check out some of her insights (and the gorgeous trailer and stills!):
On the narrative
"Four archetypal, normal young people are dissatisfied with how their lives are going, and they run away together to a house that one of the characters had inherited because her parents had died. They decide to set up a polyamorous utopia together to see if they can change the way they live for the better. The main thing that they’re trying to do is fight cynicism and sadness. They want to see if they can think freely and be young.”
On the female perspective
"We wanted to make something which didn’t dissolve into dystopian horror. It would become kind of schlocky, and dare I say it, slightly masculinized. A story doesn’t have to be violent and melodramatic. I have felt that picking out the subtleties of stories and stressing relationships and moments of emphasis is maybe something women understand better. The male audience has been amazing, but that’s definitely something to look at in terms of what we’re traditionally taught of is really dramatic and what makes for a story. [The conflict] is there, but it’s quite minimalist.
“[The film] is part of the conversation of reclaiming film as something women can express themselves through. There’s still a long way to go and a real need for a variety of voices. I like a lot of the [women directors] who are popular now, but it’s great to just be adding to that list."
On cultural relevance
"We’re looking at the personal as political. How people feel free in themselves is a really important question. Although the characters are hiding from overt political engagement—because they do feel defeated and obsolete—they are seeking a kind of empowerment in their personal lives, and I don't think that the two are that disparate. You can’t really change the world unless you can change how you think. I think people feel a massive pressure to do something great and creative, and that can sometimes make for an unhappy, neurotic way of spending your time rather than a brave and a free way."
On sex scenes
"We tried to make it both sexy and also subtle at the same time. There’s a whole different language developing about how people film sex and nudity, which is really interesting. There’s definitely interest in reclaiming sex scenes as part of cinema rather than something that is smutty. They’ve been used as a way to shock and titillate, but they function in a lot of different ways in the film. They’re used to reveal character, to show moments of joy or to show divisions, so there’s a lot that you can read from them."
"We were interested in the idea of love and the idea of not having to stop loving people and loving more than one person at a time and how to keep things going without having to let go of things. And without having to have division. It’s the more romantic side of it that we’re exploring—the idea of the heart. There isn’t necessarily a freedom in traditional relationships to allow that to really happen. It can fall into a quotidian discussion about normalizing polyamory, like I work in IT and I’m a normal person, and that’s fine, but that wasn’t really what we were interested in as a topic. It’s about questioning whether or not pairing off is what makes us happy."
Image and trailer credit: Hide & Seek Film