‘What does a lesbian bring to a first date? A U-Haul!’ We’ve all heard that joke; it’s a ‘humorous’ take on the stereotype that lesbians are obsessed with being in relationships and settling down, before moving in and taking advantage of the world’s changing laws on same-sex marriage.
While there’s very little harm in it (this is one assumption about lesbians that actually works in favour of human rights rather than against them), straight men and women are stereotyped in similar ways when they choose to partner up, and so the trope has become a bit of a joke.
It’s a joke that is being presented to us in movie form with romantic comedy Portrait of a Serial Monogamist. The film, which has been directed and written by Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell, stars Diane Flacks as Elise, a television producer who is somehow always in relationships.
As described in the film’s trailer, she likes to work on these women like a personal project and then once they’re fixed up and she’s done, having written her name at the bottom like a real artist, she ups and leaves and unwittingly finds herself with someone new soon after.
Going off of that description, it’s easy to write Elsie off as a grossly unlikeable character who doesn’t deserve the love of these women she so mercilessly dumps.
However, it was Zeidler and Mitchell’s aim to make a film like High Fidelity, where the lead character lives just like this and yet is still endearing to the audience. Zeidler has explained that they wanted Elsie to be “a fuck up, but funny and charming”.
The loveable side of Elsie also comes through thanks to the fact, Flacks explains, that “she’s quite deluded” and that “she doesn’t really know” that she’s a serial monogamist.
Instead, the actress says,
she’s just kind of doing the right thing by everyone and making sure everyone’s taken care of. And then maybe in the back of her mind there was that DJ/barista, who, you know, you really should check out now that it’s over.”
Mitchell also says that they “wanted the audience to be with Elsie every step of her journey, even if they were disagreeing with her choices. Her behaviour is poor, but somehow you understand and sympathise.”
Just how well the film manages to do that will be seen later this year, as Portrait of a Serial Monogamist has been picked up by Wolfe Release to give the film a US theatrical release.