Personal Space (2013) – By Kirsten Walsh

Its not every day you see a man having intimate relations with a pillow, and honestly, I’m not sure if that’s something you would ever want to see. But there it is, in the first six minutes of Elli Rayni’s “Personal Space”. With a untypical guy cast as the protagonist, we watch him in a state of being alone in the first few minutes of the film, and then flash back to six months prior, when a cute brunette was all about him. We follow the awkwardness of fumbling through clumsy sex, and what seems to be a failing relationship, clinging to the physical. This is definitely a commentary on the ideals of relationships as we think about them today, and shows the raw truth when the fairy tale ending doesn’t happen.

James McDougall does an excellent job playing Sid, an idealist who didn’t get his happy ending with Karri, and pushes a little too much, ultimately pushing her away. Much of the first half of the film is spent with the couple having sex, then talking about their failing relationship, then having sex and not talking about it. Sadly, this has become the standard in many relationships today. The awkward conversations of Karri being “stuck” are something that everyone can relate to, making this film an introspective, real moment into not just these characters’ lives, but also into the lives of every audience member.

I found it quite difficult to care about either Sid or Karri. While I felt bad for them and their failing love, neither did anything about it to save it or to just end it and be done until after the first half hour of the film. After the breakup, I felt a sense of relief that the awkward conversations were over (“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t care about you”- like I haven’t heard that one before). The film is littered with reflective dialogue and soliloquies about how to grow up through a break up, which are true and beautiful, but its not action- or doing anything.

He is pushed into a first date by a friend, and begins a conversational romance with Julie. More awkward intimate moments follow with the introduction of kink and surprise. It definitely took a turn for the better from this point on, and it seemed that Sid finally had met his match with the ladies. But, his feelings for Karri prevailed, and he dropped Julie, and tries to win Karri back.

This is a great slice of life film. From the subtle music to the calm confidence in the actors, you really follow Sid as he travels through his feelings. The technical aspects don’t detract from the film, giving the audience a voyeuristic look at lackluster love and struggling through it. A raw, gritty look at it, one that deserves a watch.