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A Married Couple

The iconic promotional image from Allan King’s A Married Couple, all offending iconography dutifully cropped. Photo by Richard Leiterman, courtesy of Allan King Film Ltd.

If you’re still naive enough to think that romantic relationships won’t sour, or that love is something other than an arbitrary concept cooked up by Romantic poets, you could probably stand to see Allan King’s seminal documentary (or “actuality drama”) A Married Couple. It’ll rinse the taste of romance and true love and all that other warm-fuzzy nonsense right out of your mouth. Call it the original Blue Valentine.

Released in 1969, King’s film takes an unobtrusive, fly-on-the-wall approach to the marriage of Toronto couple Billy and Antoinette Edwards. A Married Couple follows their marital bliss for a period of 10 weeks, from the highs (sharing a tender moment while listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) to the lows (everything else). Though highly controversial when it was first released—it was rejected by CTV, who commissioned it—it went on to become one of the most fascinating and highly regarded documentary films ever produced. “King creates a drama that, in its utter nakedness, makes John Cassavetes’s Faces look like early Doris Day,” Time Magazine wrote. “The emotionally exhausting result achieves the ultimate artifice of the documentarist, the feeling that it was somehow made without a camera.”

This review has been excerpted from an earlier article.

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