Each year, at least one captivating animated feature outside of Disney manages to make an impact when the awards season arrives. My Love Affair With Marriage is on par with the best of these. Complete with musical numbers and an incredibly loveable character, it’s a remarkable journey from beginning to end.
My Love Affair With Marriage tells the story of Zelma as she navigates sex, love, gender, and romance against the backdrop of Soviet society. It’s a semi-autobiographical account of animator Signe Baumane’s life from childhood to middle age, and across two marriages. The story is told with the assistance of Latvian grandmothers and an animated neuron. It’s a cerebral journey through the very human experience of exploring love and connection. The 2022 Tribeca Festival was the perfect venue to premiere this work of art.
From the very beginning, the movie weaves the science of intergenerational trauma into the story. From the beginning, viewers get an up-close and scientific examination of the concept of gender on a scientific level while exploring the valid human emotions that play a role. The impacts of bullying and of being considered an outsider from a young age are clear. One can’t help but feel for the young Zelma immediately. Anyone who has felt the weight of the world when simply trying to fit in without making waves will see themselves here.
The exploration of addiction, and its relationship to domestic violence, is as alarming as it is accurate. Even though the abuser’s history is shown, and scientifically how trauma damages the addict’s brain, his abusive actions are never condoned. My Love Affair With Marriage presents alcoholism as a condition that often has far-reaching consequences. And yet, while the alcoholic themselves may be a victim of circumstances and genetics, they are still responsible for their actions and how they treat others. Domestic violence, and the science of why it is so difficult for survivors to leave these situations, is handled with great sensitivity.
My Love Affair With Marriage also speaks to the healing power of art. In societies where art is suppressed, the people suffer. The movie shows how art gives context to the times in which artists lives. Even in the midst of political violence and revolution, art offers a window into the human soul. Zelma’s soul is stretched, almost more than is possible, and yet her resilience and tenacity are clear throughout this story.
My Love Affair With Marriage combines captivating character development, an enthralling story, and gorgeous animation to present an important work of art that is relevant to our time. Though the setting and time may be specific, this movie’s themes are timeless. Each and every detail add additional dimensions to bring this story to life. This is a story that speaks to the peaks and valleys that are human relationships and the enduring nature of the human spirit. Wrapped in an animated package, it is more than a worthy journey.
My Love Affair With Marriage had its World Premiere at the 2022 Tribeca Festival.