Mandy Moore and Martin Freeman star in SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS, a film by Jonathan Newman. Picture courtesy Freestyle Releasing. All rights reserved.
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Swinging with the Finkels (2010/2011)
Opened: 08/26/2011 Limited
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: British Comedy
Rated: R for sexual content and language.
Swinging With The Finkels is the story of what happens after the honeymoon ends and couples get bored with married life.
Having met at University, American born Ellie (MANDY MOORE) and her husband Alvin (MARTIN FREEMAN), are several years into their marriage. The heady sparks of lust and fun have sadly faded and they're left with the day to day normality of their everyday life.
Advised by best friends Peter (JONATHAN SILVERMAN) and Janet (MELISSA GEORGE), who are having their own marital problems, Ellie and Alvin are desperate to 'spice things up'.
Having explored various options, including an unfortunate incident with a cucumber as witnessed by Ellie's Grandfather (played by comedy legend JERRY STILLER), Ellie hits upon the brilliant idea to mix things up with another couple - to have a 'consensual affair' within the confines of the marriage.
Our couple embark on finding the ideal couple and begin to interview a plethora of perverse and quirky swingers. They finally settle on what seem to be the perfect couple, played by well known UK media personality Angus Deayton and the hilarious Daisy Beaumont. A night of insanity and hilarity follow.
Filled with brilliantly observed truths about men and woman, and some side achingly funny set pieces, "Swinging With The Finkels" is a romantic comedy with a unique edge that anyone that has ever been in a relationship will relate to.
The Genesis of the Film
Writer/Director Jonathan Newman had been trying to get his foot in the film-making door for a number of years. Having directed short films and promos, it was finally through Producer Deepak Nayar's website www.filmaka.com that Newman managed to get himself noticed. Nayar set up the website filmaka to give young filmmakers the opportunity to submit their short films and compete against each other in filmmaking competitions. Back in 2008 Jonathan created two short films for the site "sex with the finkels" and "Father's day". Sex with the finkels was a runner up in its respective competition, whilst Father's day went on to beat 500 contestants and win its category. Both films caught the eye of Producer Deepak Nayar, he recalls how "after seeing Jonathan's short films, it soon became apparent that he had a natural talent for story telling and filmmaking. I was very keen to work with him and turn sex with the finkels into a feature film"
After a series of meetings, Nayar and Newman developed the screenplay for "Swinging With The Finkels" and used the short film as a promo to demonstrate the feature's intended style and humour to prospective financiers. The money was quickly raised and the production began with earnest in the summer of 2009 at the renown Ealing Studios in London, England.
Although the catchy title might imply a film of an adult nature, Newman is quick to point out that he was not making a "sex romp, but rather a sophisticated, romantic comedy that deals with adult themes of sex, marriage and relationships. Only about 10 minutes of the film is about swinging, the rest is the story of a couple and their rocky relationship, exploring where they went wrong and how they're going to get back on track."
The Cast and Characters
With a screenplay in place, the casting of the lead couple Ellie and Alvin was crucial to the film's success. In order to widen the movie's trans-atlantic appeal they decided they wanted one to be British and the other American. The deliberation over whether it would be a British female paired with an American male or vice versa was soon settled, when well loved British comedy actor Martin Freeman came on board. Deepak Nayar described how pleased they were to "have an actor with such wonderful, and sophisticated comedic timing. He not only brings a sharp witted humour to his characters but also a soft and gentle sensibility that audiences cannot help but fall in love with. He was our perfect romantic comedy lead."
American born actress/singer Mandy Moore was the next piece in the jigsaw. Newman describes how, "her natural beauty and sweet nature brings an instant heart and warmth to the movie." For Moore, the draw of the project was the opportunity to work with Martin Freeman. They had previously worked together on "Dedication" and so Moore explains how "the chance of working with Martin again was a major selling point for me, I immediately jumped at the opportunity when I found out he was on board." Moore flew over to London and began to bring the quirky character of fashion designer Ellie to life.
Together, Martin and Mandy were the perfect pairing. Alvin and Ellie, the character's they were to play however, were not experiencing such a level of perfection in their relationship. The fictional couple met and fell in love at University but the heady excitement of young love soon turns into the monotony of married life. Both characters however, have a desire to do what ever it takes to keep the flame alive.
Alvin and Ellie's friends and family advise and confide in the pair about their own relationships and try their best to help them find the answer to the eternal question, "Is the grass greener on the other side?" The casting of the friends and family gives another multinational layer to the movie. Australian actress Melissa George plays Janet, the wife of Peter, and mother of two who is struggling to keep her identity and family life on an even keel. For Melissa who is well known for her more dramatic and serious roles, the chance to be part of a British comedy was one she couldn't miss. "I'd been looking for a well written comedy for quite a while... I instantly loved the script and the character of Janet, getting to work in London was an added bonus"
Jonathan Silverman who plays Peter, Alvin's best friend and Janet's husband has a wealth of comedy experience behind him and is best loved for his role in "Weekend at Bernie's". Martin Freeman describes Jonathan as "having exquisite comedic timing, a great ability for physical comedy and an absolute pleasure to work with". The character of Peter however is not so flawless, with a slightly eccentric and larger then life nature, the north London dentist test's out the grass on the other side by having an affair with one of his patients.
Another comedy heavyweight comes in the form of New Yorker Jerry Stiller who plays Ellie's grandfather, Mr Winters. Director, Newman had been a fan of Stiller since his days in the ever popular "Seinfeld ". He recalls how "Jerry was my first choice for the character so having him on board was a great honour." Stiller's character is involved in one of the movie's most memorable scenes, when he accidentally walks in on his granddaughter in a rather compromising position with a cucumber. As Stiller politely describes it himself, he "discovered her in an unusual state".
Angus Deayton and Daisy Beaumont bring an element of British charm and sophistication to the film in the form of Richard and Clementine, the couple who Alvin and Ellie finally decide to try "swinging with". Ellie and Alvin take an immediate shine to the traditional middle classed English couple who appear to mirror their own desire to "try something new" as a way of spicing up their failing marriage. Deayton describes how the awkward and cringing swinging scenes bring a "comedy of embarrassment" to the film. "There is an inherent sense of humiliation to the whole scenario, which to observe as a viewer is extremely funny."
Set amongst the vibrant streets of London, SWINGING WITH THE FINKELS is a sophisticated comedy about the trials and tribulations of modern day marriages and relationships.
Unlike traditional rom coms, who follow the formulaic, boy meets girls, fall in love, live happily ever after scenario, Swinging With The Finkels, explores what happens after the happily ever after credits start to role. It demonstrates how marriage takes work, has it problems, its affairs, its pains and its trials but that ultimately it's worth fighting for. As Mandy Moore describes, Ellie has "a love for love and places a great value on being in love, along with an unending reach to do whatever it takes to make her relationship work."
It is that unending reach that leads Ellie to suggest to Alvin that they try swinging to spice up their lives and help re-ignite the flame they previously felt for one another. They've seen the marriage of their best friends (Peter and Janet) fall apart after an affair and want to avoid going down that path. They want to see whether the grass is greener but want to do it consensually and openly. Ultimately, swinging doesn't offer the answer they were hoping for and so an inevitable separation ensues. It is that act of separation that gives then the impetus to save their relationship and love for one another. As Martin Freeman puts it "they realise there is a great value in love and that it is possible to re-discover true love with the person you're meant to be with"