'What if I Cheated on You?'
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Think of it as a practice session for your next big Relationship Talk.
By Leslie Nguyen-Okwu
Relationships can be complete hell or true bliss. And you can witness just about every emotion within that range flickering across the faces of real-life couples starring in The And , an interactive documentary and online game that delves deep into the lovely mess of romance.
Created by The Skin Deep , a film and media brand, The And is a tell-all experiment that follows 30 couples as they sit face to face and ask each other 412 questions about sex, money, marriage and everything in between. The cameras capture each participant’s face, straight on and up close, while flashing back to a wider shot where we can observe the way the couples lean in or away from each other as they wriggle through the answers. The only rule is honesty, and at times it’s jaw-dropping to watch.
“What would you do if I cheated on you?” one woman asked her partner. His curt reply? “You’d be dead to me.”
“Am I the best sex you’ve ever had?”
Since the documentary’s July launch, more than 3 million people have tuned in to watch the honesty unfold in “the intimate spaces of a relationship,” said director Topaz Adizes. The film’s brave volunteering couples vary in age, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity. Even a conservative married couple in the South can learn something about love from a polyamorous pair in Brooklyn, explained Adizes.
So what’s an interactive documentary? A visit to the movie’s website prompts a four-question quiz, after which the movie “rewrites” itself based on the viewer’s feedback. The end product is an approximately 90-second film catering uniquely to you and your relationship style. “It’s created for you in the moment and there is no narrative,” said Nathan Phillips, the architect behind the website’s design. Phillips is confident that he and Adizes have stumbled onto something big. Adizes hopes that Netflix, HBO and other online movie platforms will launch interactive films like The And and others that “jump out of the computer screen and into your own life.”
Of course, the idea of feedback-driven films isn’t new. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World , film “feelies” heightened the movie-watching experience by using people’s biofeedback to create a more sensory experience. And the idea of peering in on other people’s private lives? Sort of like a little phenomenon known as reality TV.
But the unvarnished documentary style of The And delivers what Adizes calls a “reality of feeling.” His all-time favorite couple in the film is Julia and Elijah, two lovestruck teenagers who are preparing to graduate high school and separate for college. In one scene, their silence fills the screen. You know what’s going on in that moment even though there are no words. “Those 30 seconds of silence are the best lines in the film,” said Adizes.
Maybe so. But we’re partial to the mix of awkward averted gazes and joyful high-fives in this clip where couples answer the question, “Am I the best sex you’ve ever had?” For something a little sweeter and less flop-sweat-inducing, scroll down to the next clip where couples recount what they remember from the first time they met. Coo.
This story has been updated to correctly identify the representative from The Skin Deep.