What happens after a near decade of marriage ends in divorce? Or, more importantly, what happens when that divorce is splashed across tabloids and your ex-wife re-marries? In his documentary, Monogamish, filmmaker Tao Ruspoli seeks to answer these questions and examine his relationship with romantic and sexual exclusivity. In 2003, Ruspoli married Her actress Olivia Wilde. They were young and in love, he says in a voiceover, but as she became more successful, he felt emasculated. Things came to a halt in 2011 when she filed for divorce, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’. 1.1 million Americans divorce annually, so Ruspoli spent 5 years interviewing historians, psychologists, anthropologists, and couples in love, asking himself if monogamy was possible, or as he puts it, “Are we at best — monogam-ish?”
Originally conceived as a short film with a conversation between Ruspoli and his eccentric, liberal 75-year old neighbor, the clip suddenly became a Youtube hit and Ruspoli thought the subject warranted further conversation. “The marriage contract is the most important thing you’ll sign in your lives,” Ruspoli says, “And most people read it less than their cell phone contracts.” The film is an examination of different forms of monogamy through Ruspoli’s familial relationships (his father, an Italian prince, married three times), forced marriage (ancient societies deemed women’s virginity a possession), and polyamory (a relationship with more than two partners, as one couple in the film explores). He says while a relationship can initially survive on the rush of infatuation, they always change, thus calling the feasibility of monogamy and its applicability to all, into question.”Relationships are always hot in the beginning, but it’s like snorting cocaine. It’s not a state you can live in all the time.”
Despite an introduction in which Ruspoli mentions his divorce, losing his home, and “everything he cares about”, his opinions on monogamy and marriage eventually grow into an introspective place. “I’m not presumptuous enough to think I’ll know what I want in five years. And I’m not closed off to monogamy nor marriage.” Though, his neighbor and notable character in the documentary, Roberta, still maintains a more liberal approach, “I always cheated, I always did what I wanted,” she says of her romantic history, “And sex is sex.”
Monogamish is now playing in select theaters. monogamish.us
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