“I don’t want to argue either, Honey, as long as you can admit that I’m right.”
Couples argue. Maybe about little things, maybe important things. But it’s just natural that two people each think they’re right, and expect the other to admit defeat.
The Argument, from Robert Schwartzman, revolves around (and around) such a conflict. Jack (Dan Folger) has planned a little cocktail party to celebrate the end of his girlfriend Lisa’s (Emma Bell) first professional acting job. He has invited his agent, Brett (Danny Pudi) and his wife Sarah (Maggie Q) to come by after the show. Lisa has also invited her co-star Paul (Tyler James Williams), who brings his girlfriend Trina (Cleopatra Coleman), although Jack is unaware that they are coming. Jack has an agenda for the night, which will culminate in asking Lisa to marry him. Instead, little things go wrong, feelings get hurt, things get said, and Jack and Lisa end up in a terrible argument that brings the party to a close.
That night, as they go to bed, both are still convinced that the other is a fault. One after the other they say, “I just wish we could redo this whole night so we could see how wrong you are.” Then the idea strikes them. They will invite everyone back again and relive the party to see just what went wrong. But the other couples are less enthused about this process. As the night goes on, new and different conflicts crop up. So they try again the next night. This time Jack is writing a script to get everything down verbatim. And again. And again.
As the events replay over and over, each person’s mistakes and flaws become magnified, letting each see themselves as others are seeing them. Eventually it culminates in an evening when instead of them reliving it all again, Jack has brought in actors for a script reading. The script obviously reflects his slant on everyone involved, and the actors add new dynamics to the situation. By this point, no one knows what any of the original conflicts were about.
The real question in The Argument is not what is the truth, but can we ever really know the truth, even when we are a part of what happened? Here are six people who are not just witnesses to what happened, but participants. Yet, the events can never be accurately recreated because everyone now has new perspectives and opinions that keep affecting their own ideas and those of others.
It’s not unimportant that the play Lisa and Paul were in was called Wolfgang (and seems to parallel Amadeus). The play was about the mixture of love and jealousy the defined the relationship of Mozart and Antonio Salieri. These are all people who yearn for greatness, but have not shown the world (or themselves) anything other than mediocrity.
While the story deals with the dynamics of relationships, it is really a look at how our self-centeredness undermines the foundations of relationships. Our own desires—including our desire to be right in an argument—often get in the way of the fulfillment we can find with people we love. Perhaps winning an argument isn’t as important as recognizing the joy we share.
The Argument is playing in theaters and is available on VOD.
Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.