the lifestyle (1999)

by zEke

the lifestyle posterSometimes I feel like Michael Moore invented documetaries. This is, probably, because he managed to add an ingredient that most of them lacked in the past, entertainment (and a big dose of mainstream controversy). And by entertainment, I mean the kind of entertainment one might find in a blockbuster. Before bowling for columbine (2002) most documentary filmmakers could not dream about a theatrical or even digital video disc release, and were happy if their message was able to spread out through festivals and cable.

the lifestyle is one of those documentaries. David Schisgall, the guy behind the camera, is not worried about reaching audiences and delivers a flat yet interesting perspective of swinging in America. Interesting because of the way swingers talk about swinging, and how comical some sexual shots are. Because, in case you were wondering, there are sexual content and nudity performed by your average middle to old age man and woman. No models here.

Schisgall’s documentary is built upon a succession of entwined interviews of people whose lifestyle is quite different than the one their neighbors think they have. A swinging convention and a private swinging party help him lengthen the experience without studying it in depth.

Schisgall succeeds at portraying a lifestyle that it is definitely there, but rather than looking into the whys, he puts his efforts on showing how insignificant, yet fun, sex is for swingers. This, and the fact that most of the people portrayed are older than twice my age lead me to think that what they do is essentially the same thing my grandmother does. She plays cards with her casual friends, though.

It is interesting to notice that the only young couple portrayed in the documentary is the one facing the lifestyle with reservations. They are the ones worried about the effects swinging might have on their relationship. Older swingers are not, or seem not to be worried about that, they just want to have fun once they do not have to worry about, for example, raising their children anymore.

A documentary that left me with the feeling that it was made out of self recreation rather than to raise awareness of a taboo lifestyle. The people on it will definitely love it. The rest might have had enough with half an hour of it.

For the deadhours of those who still think the fun is over when one gets older and older people that just play cards.

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official site | imdb

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