By Karen Bliss
As the opening credits roll in the new Canadian film 'Textuality,' an entire relationship begins and ends, from courtship to proposal to wedding day to... being left at the altar.
The dumpee, Breslin (played by Jason Lewis of 'Sex and the City'), re-enters the dating world six months later with his head and heart still damaged. Carly Pope ('Young People F---ing') co-stars as Simone, a guy-juggling painter/blogger. She longs for the married Clive (played by Eric McCormack of 'Will & Grace'), but is intriguing and endearing enough to pull Breslin out of the dumps.
Heavy-handed references to texting, BBM, Facebook and other social media bring this oft-told love story, directed by Warren P. Sonoda, into the digital age, hence the title. Moviefone interviewed Lewis and Pope separately in Toronto to get a fun he said/she said perspective on the film (which opens today), dating and technology.
If anyone is stuck in line for popcorn, they will miss crucial plot details, which make Breslin likeable. Otherwise, we might just think he's an ass.
Jason Lewis: And a player, yeah. I don't think that that's what Breslin is at all. He's indicative of so many people. You go through an emotional upheaval like that and you tend to act out in one way or another. What he's doing isn't so much being a player -- and it's actually brought up in the film -- but that he's keeping himself so hyper-occupied that he's hiding from looking at himself.
Carly Pope: It gives you the set up. He took this chance and has the love of his life really hurt him. So now he is cut off, which makes sense why he's using his phone as the middle man in all of his dealings.
Why is Simone, who is sleeping with four guys, likeable?
Lewis: Because what comes out of her mouth is something that I always like in people, the zero-filter people. You know where you stand with them. There's an honesty and a straight-forward decency to her. She's not misrepresenting anything herself. She's not being maligning. So there's really nothing not to like about her.
Pope: For me, I felt like I connected to her because, for one [laughs], I was not operating my life unlike Simone's at the time, especially while shooting. So I understood that mentality a little bit more. Also, I looked at the artist who did all of Simone's artwork, Elizabeth Dyer (a Toronto artist), and that helped to inform the character. Her artwork, she's either painting solitary figures or empty rooms. And that to me spoke to Simone's loneliness, her genuine isolation. Even though she's distracted by all these other things, it's like she's not getting what she wants, and I feel like Simone's a real romantic at heart. She wants people to call; she wants people to be in her life. She wants all those things.
Even though it's called 'Textuality,' how crucial is technology to the film?
Lewis: It's married to it, but it's not a film about technology; it's a film about that ever-present difficult issue, love. And, in today's day and age, texting technology in and of itself is a wonderful thing, but in a character like [Breslin], here's a person who doesn't want to face certain things and realities and go deeper. He's able to do it in a way that he probably wouldn't have been able to do back in the day because there's an expectation of communication that he can satisfy very easily, as he doesn't have to get as serious because of that expectation.
What appealed to you about the film?
Lewis: They are very relatable characters and I think there's something going on right now -- I can't imagine what it's like to be 16 and trying to develop your personal relationships. In some ways, there are some great advantages for the younger generations because of the amount of information they have access to, but in other ways they are so cut off from practical experience and I like that about this film. At some point, you gotta get face-to-face and get it done.
Pope: It's so rare to not see people with phones in their hands so I do feel like it's apropos for our time. I also think Liam Card wrote such a phenomenally strong female lead. All the women in the movie are strong. They all know exactly what they want and they all change their course when they're not getting what they want. So I really appreciated how refreshingly honest Simone was and how confident she was, despite being unlucky in love.
Are you caught up in texting and technology?
Lewis: I definitely use the hell out of it, but I'm definitely old school. I'm like, 'Hey come up and have some beers.' I also do mad texts. (Looking at his phone) My last email is about my new surf board. This is important stuff and thank god I have my email. My buddy Frank, at Lighning Bolt Surf, he shapes over in Maui. So I'm very much on the technological tip, but I took stock a while ago and you can't have a decent level of communication and relationship with everybody you're trying to; it's not fair to you or the people you really care about.
Which relationships do you feel texting and email improves?
Lewis: Business. Business and tasks. Like Frank and I are good friends. We go and surf. But we don't need to have a 20-minute conversation about the surf board.
Pope: I think when you're starting up a situation, it's really fun texting or BBMing or whatever. It's really fun and flirtatious and it's cheeky and you can get creative, and you can safely -- because you're not there in person -- let your freak-flag fly [laughs]. You can get a little bit more expressive than you would straight-up in-person right off the bat. But I do think we've become so reliant that the phones are never out of our reach. We're always trying to stay connected that way and the irony is that it's actually disconnecting us from everything else because we're not just focused on what's in front of us; we focus on what's in our hand or off to the side.
It's almost a guy's dream when it comes to dating that these things were invented. You don't have to have a proper conversation. All you need to type is a "baby" or a "honey" and an xo or heart emoticon and we're happy.
Lewis: I get plenty of emoticons. Listen, I never got dating. I just don't. I'm not a good dater. Some people date quite well and I'm like, 'Really? This is like trying to shove a square into a round. Why are we doing this?'
You've obviously dated pre-all this nonsense. Do you embrace texting and all these emoticons?
Pope: I had to just update my phone and I was like, 'Oh My God, the raised eyebrow, the dancing icon!' That speaks to the creativity of it. You can actually have fun with your messages.
And not get misinterpreted.
Pope: And not get misinterpreted. People are totally overusing LOL and a wink – and I'm very guilty of using the wink – that's probably my favourite emoticon to use because 'I'm being sarcastic, don't misinterpret; don't misconstrue; I'm just kidding.' Again, for as many benefits as it has, also picking up the phone and having a conversation speaks volumes.