For the past 42 years, director Michael Apted has been doing the "Up" series in which he documents the lives of a group of individuals every 7 years. Wanting to create another sequence of films similar to "Up", Apted has recently started "Married in America," which focuses on married couples. While not quite as affecting and compelling as the groundbreaking "Up" films, "Married In America 2" is still an endlessly watchable and thought provoking look at married life.
"Married In America 2" follows up on 8 different married couples (and one not able to marry) 5 years after "Married In America." The couples are as followed:
1. Betty and Reggie whom are childhood sweethearts.
2. Nadine and Frank are a couple who have split up, but are trying to make their marriage work for themselves and for their two children.
3. Vanessa and Chris are now raising a child and are beginning to mature more.
4. Amber and Scott are a happy work oriented Southern couple.
5. Carol and Chuck had a nasty break up, but still keep in touch for the children's sake.
6. Donna and Todd had a rocky start to their marriage, but seem to be headed in the right direction.
7. Toni and Kelly are a lesbian couple raising twins.
8. Brenda and David are also raising a child.
9. Cheryl and Neal have different religious backgrounds, but are learning to cope with that issue.
As I mentioned earlier, "Married In America 2" is a nice companion piece to the "Up" series. While "Up" looks at human growth and changes (marriage included) during various stages of life , the "Married In America" series focuses entirely on married couples and their financial struggles, careers, family, etc. Naturally, the couples going through hardships are the most fascinating to watch, the most notable of which are Carol and Chuck, Toni and Kelly, and Nadine and Frank.
Carol and Chuck simply have had bad luck at marriage. Carol had been married 3 times prior to Chuck, and Chuck married 4 times prior to Carol. They entered into marriage hoping to start life anew, but things didn't turn out the way they wanted. Chuck developed lung problems and became angry, which drove away Carol and her children. The entire family dynamic is complicated and often times unpleasant. Fortunately, Chuck is trying to pull himself together and is able to visit the children.
Meanwhile, Toni and Kelly are going through their own difficulties. Their problem isn't that their relationship isn't happy and healthy. The problem is they can't get married as they are a lesbian couple. The couple's hardships are clearly evident in one heartbreaking scene at a restaurant where a man spouts anti-gay remarks loudly so everyone can hear.
Nadine and Frank are another couple whose marriage has crumbled. The two split up, but got back together. Watching the couple, you can't really tell if they can work their marriage out. They love each other and their children, but both Nadine and Frank have their own personal problems that are affecting their relationship. Nadine lost her mother and Frank lost his step father. In addition, Frank clearly has a hard time dealing with a newborn child and being a father to another child. He knows he rushed into marriage and seems to have regrets. Interesting to say the least.
The other 6 couples are all interesting in their own right as well, but the three I spoke about above were the couples that caught my interest the most.
The widescreen picture quality looks typical for a documentary shot on digital video. It can look clear, and it can appear fuzzy and grainy at times.
The Dolby Digital Stereo audio is clear. It was never hard to hear the couple's talking in or outside.
* A trailer.
* A photo gallery.
* Filmmaker Bio.
* About Docudrama Films text and Docudrama trailers for "Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back," "Air Guitar Nation," "A Crude Awakening," and the wonderful "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill."
* A 6 minute featurette titled "Casting Interviews: Love At First Sight," which shows the various audition tapes of each couple.
* A thorough 40 minute interview between TV critic Howard Rosenberg and director Michael Apted. Apted talks about everything from capturing life as it happens, having no agenda, the locations he shot at, the politics of marriage, divorces, etc.
"Married In America 2" is a revealing look at the various stages of marriages in America. I think anyone who has ever been married or in a serious relationship can identify with this film. Additionally, the viewer will undoubtedly learn about what makes a stable marriage. Recommended viewing.
Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.