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Review: 'Monogamy' only lets some of its relationship issues bubble to the top

**1/2 (out of four)

Guess what’s got freelance photographer Theo’s (Chris Messina) attention less than four months before his wedding. Is it the font and color of his and fiancé Nat’s (Rashida Jones) invitations? Or could it be the mysterious woman who hired him to take pictures of her engaged in activities such as, oh, pleasuring herself in a park or sleeping with a guy in a parked car? Theo’s fixation on the client known as “Subgirl” becomes even more of an issue after Nat is hospitalized for an infection on her finger, which sadly Jones’ nurse character from “Parks and Recreation” isn’t able to treat.

The buzz: Throw a dart into a bin of indie dramas and you’ll probably hit one like “Monogamy” (directed and co-written by Dana Adam Shapiro of the brilliant documentary “Murderball”) about New Yorkers and their relationship woes. That’s not to say none of those films makes valid points, just that we’re running a little low on movie topics here, people.

The verdict: Riding a seductive yet ominous New York groove, the naturalistic, stage-ready “Monogamy” is most observant about the everyday miscommunications that turn sexual chemistry into feelings of isolation. (Obvious reminder: Do attend significant other’s open mic performances; don’t try to get it on when she feels self-conscious about needing a shower.) A less oblivious character than Theo would see the movie’s twist coming a mile away and find the male characters’ commitment issues very cliché. A stronger, more realized character than Nat (played wonderfully by Jones) would express frustration sooner than she does. Yet they’re believable as a couple slow to admit anything’s wrong and to distinguish between posed/assumed comfortability and real happiness. “Monogamy” demonstrates what you miss in a relationship when you’re lost in your own head, and what might not be there when you come back.

Did you know? Theo’s friend, Will (Ivan Martin), notes that a book called “The Easy Way to Quit Smoking” allows you to smoke until the end of the book. Safe to say this guy’s probably going to read it twice.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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