It does not befit a film about relationships to struggle with dialogue.
X/Y, which is billed as an ‘intimate and insightful character study’, finds its strength in scenes without speech; sequences marked by a great soundtrack and very capable cinematography. Its mastermind, Ryan Piers Williams, proves his ability as a filmmaker – but not as writer nor actor. Even though he stars alongside his wife, America Ferrera, the film is devoid of chemistry and follows a droll formula, with engaging moments only serving to bridge conversations that rightfully belong in a television soap opera.
Though the film, through its division into various chapters, maintains the pretence of having an ensemble cast, Sylvia (Ferrera) and Mark (Williams) take centre-stage; the opening scene launches us directly into their couples’ spat without a moment to spare, their conflict quickly established as the driving force of the film’s narrative. Mere minutes into the movie, Mark leaves when Sylvia confesses she cheated with a colleague. Thus, the film splits into two main narratives: Mark and Sylvia’s lives without each other.
But while the premise offers the opportunity to explore these characters in depth and watch them grow as they deal with their separation, we’re treated mostly to inane dialogue and pointless sex scenes. Friends Jake (Jon Paul Phillips) and Jen (Melonie Diaz) offer counsel to Mark and Sylvia respectively and are privileged to have their own chapters, but their storylines are left unresolved by the film’s abrupt ending. Closure is integral to satisfying relationship drama and X/Y fails to deliver it.
What we’re left with is a lazy, shallow, and unengaging interpretation of the intricacies of adult relationships that attempts, half-heartedly, to communicate the importance of realistic expectations and the consequences of naïveté but ultimately falls flat, at least in part by giving too great a role to unsympathetic characters and underexposing the more interesting, more troubled ones. Too frustrating and downbeat for a date movie, and without the sophistication of good character drama, there are really few circumstances in which I could recommend X/Y.