What is it about watching bickering couples that’s so damn interesting? Humans have been kicking back and enjoying marital strife on stage since at least Lysistrata in 411 BC, and even those of us who won’t admit it have gleefully spied on lovers’ subway spats. Leigh and Kate (as written and acted by Jen Tullock and Hannah Pearl Utt) are thoroughly modern Millennials: they co-own a gay bar and go out for juice. Their brand of romantic contempt, however, goes back millennia.
Despite a one-room setup that promises pressure-cooker awkwardness (á la Her Friend Adam, featured back in August), Partners is an oddly relaxing watch. The levity at the film’s core becomes all the more troubling when you realize you may be watching not the end of Kate and Leigh but their day-to-day norm. The breeziness with which they trade barbs both shallow (“oh, poor horny baby”) and deep (“you’ve stigmatized your queerness since the day I first met you!”) will be queasily familiar to anyone who’s ever lost track of what anniversary they’re celebrating.
Guided by Joey Ally’s no-nonsense direction and a whip-smart cut by T.J. Williams (who also shoots), this 6-minute miniature is concentrated to satisfy the mightiest thirst for other lovers’ pettiest moments.