MARRIAGE IS BLISS by Mike Messier
Independent film director Mike Messier explores the nature of marital stress, fidelity, and sexual freedom in a vignette set against the backdrop of Reagan-era, D.C. Beltway society in “Marriage Is Bliss.” An installment of the “In the Bedroom” web-series, “Marriage is Bliss” was written and directed by Messier. It stars LaNecia Edmonds as Janet Union and Jose Consalves as Benjamin Union.
The Unions are Yale Law graduates who became a Democratic Party power couple in the 1980s. They favor the ideology of Jesse Jackson and Malcolm X over that of Ronald Reagan. For this and other reasons, the Unions are outsiders among their peers. As such, they test boundaries. However, they might turn on each other when Janet offers they take a “coffee break” from fidelity. Messier says growing up just outside of Washington, D.C. influenced the mood and flavor of the piece, which takes place in the Union’s Northern Virginia home in the early morning hours, after a political cocktail party dominated by Republicans.
The episode delivers everything that the promo promises. The tension between the Unions, palpable from the beginning of the episode, builds to a crescendo as the issue of their sexually-barren union (pun intended by Messier) comes out in the open. Edmonds and Consalves accentuate this transition by first voicing their lines like Yale-educated lawyers, then transitioning to the intimately angry tones of once-close spouses who have lost the fire of their original love. Although Benjamin seems taken aback by Janet’s proposal, indications are that he (and possibly she as well) has already been seeking solace elsewhere. The connection between sexual and political frustration is also readily apparent. The episode’s set design complements the tone of the piece by convincingly portraying the décor and household technology of the Reagan years.
Messier is coming off good reviews and film festival acceptance for his Zen feminist film, “The Nature of the Flame” (reviewed on this website), which explores the boundary between dreams and reality. He hopes that recognition and press for this film and “Marriage is Bliss” will lead to funding for both “Chris and the Coffee Girl” and “Wrestling with Sanity” (see the review on this website), two of his feature film projects. Meanwhile, Messier and associates are editing “Disregard the Vampire,” a unique spin on the genre that was filmed recently at The Courthouse Center for The Arts, a historical building in South County, Rhode Island, USA.
“In the Bedroom” is a New England Collaborative Project production led by Seth Chitwood of Angelwood Pictures. It brings together a collection of diverse and notable filmmakers from the area, including Chitwood, Messier, Carlyne Fournier, Alex Watrous, Curtis Reid, Chris Esper (whose work has also been reviewed on this website), Stephanie Castanos, Creusa Michelazzo, Jr Hepburn, Mary Hronicek, Cate Carson, Andrew Adler, Bryan Casey, Christopher Harting, and Audrey Noone. Its writers include Chitwood, Messier, Esper, Noone, Hepburn, Frank O’Donnell, Kathy Bebeau, Jill Poisson, and Charlie Alejandro. Each episode focuses on two people and the issues that occur between them in their bedroom. Hence, its very appropriate tagline is, “No one knows what happens behind closed doors.