Saturday 2 March 2019

Movie Review: Sleeping With Other People (2015)

A romantic comedy with a semi-serious focus on sex addiction, Sleeping With Other People is sharp enough to maintain interest, but sacrifices depth for raunchiness.

In a one-off encounter, college students Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) lose their virginity to each other. Twelve years later in New York City, they bump into each other again at a sex addicts meeting. Lainey is cheating on her boyfriend by repeatedly having sex with her lifelong crush Dr. Matthew Sobvechik (Adam Scott), who is engaged to be married to Emma (Katherine Waterston). Jake is afraid of commitment and ends every relationship by cheating on his girlfriends, preferably with their sisters.

Jake and Lainey recognize that they both use sex to destroy relationships, and decide to become friends and not sleep together. They develop a strong bond, confiding in each other, hanging out and often being mistaken for a couple. Lainey remains preoccupied by Matthew, but also starts a relationship with single dad Chris Smith (Marc Blucas), while Jake sets his eyes set on his boss Paula (Amanda Peet). But they both find it increasingly more difficult to deny their feelings for each other, and the relationship is complicated when Lainey considers relocating to Michigan.

Mixing traditional romantic comedy components with an honest discussion around sex addiction and an inability to commit, Sleeping With Other People matches two damaged people suffering through the same affliction. Director and writer Lesley Headland creates an equal playing field, allowing both Jake and Lainey the freedom to sleep with other people. And the safe no-sex zone they create between them, complete with "mousetrap" as a safe word to signal unwanted arousal, is an intriguing twist for the often tired genre. And Headland pushes some boundaries in the topics of conversation between the two friends, including an audacious masturbation lesson.

However, the film does suffer from a single-minded lack of texture. Headland is unable to round out her characters or the world they live in, and almost every scene and conversation revolves around the same topic of sex and its impact on relationships. The unconvincing career scenes are perfunctory, while the secondary characters, including Dr. Sobvechik and Paula, are barely defined and exist solely as devices to measure Lainey and Jake's emotional progress.

Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie are serviceable without leaving much of an impact. Sudeikis brings an aloof smugness to the role that unfortunately serves as a barrier between actor and role. Brie is better, without quite getting the balance right between Lainey craving sex and longing for unattainable love.

Sleeping With Other People is willing to engage in adult conversations and does seek sensitive resolutions, but doesn't get out of bed often enough.

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