Directed by Charles Wahl
Written by Charles Wahl
The paradox of social media is that, the more they proliferate, the less social we tend to become. As we are increasingly alienated from friends and family, the present day alternative is to turn to the dark refuse of the Internet to find meaning in our unhappy lives. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when Toronto couple Fred and Deb are experiencing marital problems, they turn to the web for their e-solutions.
Fred and Deb are the principal characters of Charles Wahl’s Webdultery, a fresh, candid look into the details of a marriage on the rocks. When they find that their marriage isn’t as fulfilling as it once was, they both clandestinely turn to adulterous websites, anonymous strangers, and spurious confidentials to find their new Mr. and Mrs. Right (if you think you know how this is going to end, you’re probably right).
Deb (Christine Tizzard) is a career woman, who dedicates much of her time, labour and attention to her work. When her company is on the verge of proliferating, she finds herself overwhelmed and unable to connect with her husband. Fred (Anthony Cortese) is a novelist (not a columnist), whose writer’s block and inability to express himself stems from the lack of excitement and inspiration in his relationship with Deb. When their marriage slowly slips away, they both internalize their problems instead of collectively working together to reconcile a mutual problem. What we have here is a failure to communicate.
The first three quarters of Webdultery starts out as a genuine study of modern relationships. The deliberately lethargic pacing reflects the stagnant nature of Fred and Deb’s marriage. The pace only sporadically influxes when friends and outsiders enter into their picture (seasoned married couples will probably agree with this).
Speaking of the supporting cast, Kevin Kincaid, who plays Fred’s best friend and Deb’s brother, O’Keefe, brings an amazing amount of levity to the picture with his well-needed comedic timing during lulls in the narrative. He is a foul-mouthed, unabashed womanizer, whose tales of his own carnal conquests steer Fred towards a path of infidelity.
Deb’s best friend, Lisa (Rebecca Nicholson), openly encourages her to find companionship online, and when Deb confides in Lisa her doubts about her marriage, it’s Lisa who suggests they get a divorce. When the narrative unfolds, we find that Lisa’s advice is really just well hidden subterfuge, with Fred as her ultimate goal.
With friends like these, it’s not wonder they turn to the Internet.
As well made and well acted the first three quarters are, the film eventually gets to a point where it stops being brutally real and turns into a customary romantic drama. About an hour in, the film suddenly becomes completely contrived and certain characters inexplicably have a capricious change of heart.
When tensions come to a boiling point, it is O’Keefe who swoops in as the voice of reason. Why would the most amoral, unscrupulous character in the film all of a sudden become the reasonable, moral compass? The change is too sudden to be believed, leading to everything he says feeling manufactured for the sake of the story.
Furthermore, the film’s apparent mantra that marital problems can be overcome if you just “work it out” feels entirely disingenuous when the film constantly shoves product placements of AshleyMadison.com in your face.
Despite all this, Webdultery’s saving grace is the film’s ending, down to the very last frame. Although it doesn’t entirely redeem the sanctimonious final quarter, the ending ultimately stays true to the film’s original notions of insufferable marital problems and their unattainable solutions.
– Justin Li