Vivian, a pretentious documentarian, has a thesis to prove with her new film: that marriage is basically prison, that married people are largely unhappy, and that the institution of marriage should be capped at 7 year contracts. So she finds 3 American couples to expose their marital problems on camera, and boy do they.
Alice (Lake Bell) and Noah (Ed Helms) are in dire financial straights; their business is failing and they’re in danger of losing their house. Meanwhile, they’ve been trying to have a baby for years, but their lacklustre sex life is not cooperating.
Fanny (Amber Heard) and Zander (Wyatt Cenac) are a non-traditional couple with an open relationship.
Cybil (Mary Steenburgen) and Harvey (Paul Reiser) married when each had a specific need, but now neither one are fulfilling it. They seem to be drifting into separate lives, and Cybil barely tolerates Harvey’s quirks.
Vivian exploits and also orchestrates events to fit her documentary’s narrative but these couples have too many real problems to play her game satisfactorily. Cybil’s semi-estranged daughter shows up, pregnant. Alice has lied about money and tries to cover it up by doing sex work on the side. Noah may be hiding a drug problem. On Vivian’s “emancipation day,” who will divorce, who will walk away, and who will choose to tough it out?
Written and directed by Lake Bell, I Do…Until I Don’t starts out subversive and satirical but simmers down to a sweet little comedy that feels more like a defense of marriage than a challenge to it. There are plenty of great lines to go around but almost nothing new to say about love and relationships. The performances are pleasing and there’s nothing wrong with the film, it’s just a lot less rebellious than I’ve come to expect from Bell. Movies are crowded with stories about relationships, and this one never finds the footing to rise above.