Set in the Parkdale neighborhood of Toronto, Portrait of a Serial Monogamist invites audiences to peek behind the curtain to a world of smart, funny and relatable queer characters, dealing with the universal complications of modern relationships. Not another coming out story, this is a fresh coming-of-middle-age romantic comedy.
Smart, successful, and charming, Elsie is the perfect girlfriend; she also happens to be a serial monogamist, with a long history of broken hearts. When Elsie breaks up with her long-standing girlfriend to pursue another woman, she faces her mother’s disapproval, conflicting advice from friends, and the nagging suspicion that she may have made a big mistake.
“One of the best-written lesbian movies I’ve ever seen. It’s incisive and very, very funny.” — Autostraddle.com
“A breath of fresh air, this assured, breezy romantic comedy concerns TV producer Elsie, who can’t keep a commitment — or stay single. The comic timing of lead actress Diane Flacks is pitch perfect, whether she’s talking to the camera or to the unfortunate women whom she happens to fall for. The jokes consistently make their landing, including inspired moments when Elsie faces work issues, gets advice on how to pick up women at the dog park, or attends a memorial service for a cat. All in all, a portrait of hilarity.” – The San Francisco Chronicles
Portrait of a Serial Monogamist is the kind of movie that proves inconsequential rom-coms aren’t just for straight people. Elsie (Diane Flacks) works for a music-related TV show and lives in a stylish apartment with an extensive record collection — in other words, she’s a 40-something hipster. Flacks’ resume includes writing for The Kids in the Hall, and she brings self-possession and sarcasm to the role, directly addressing us in the first scenes as she outlines her love life: Since getting her heart broken as a girl, she has made a point of never being broken up with again, which has met with mixed results. She dumps her longtime girlfriend, Robyn (Carolyn Taylor), seemingly out of nowhere, setting off a predictable bout of romantic soul-searching and dishing with friends.
The most interesting thing about Christina Zeidler and John Mitchell’s film: It’s unabashedly Canadian. It takes place in Toronto (“the real Toronto,” Elsie specifies) and makes deft use of the city’s historical architecture and artsy enclaves. In one awkward dinner scene, Elsie’s family discusses the CBC and the legacy of Pierre Trudeau. Elsie’s mom (Canadian comedy staple Robin Duke) is an unfortunate amalgam of clueless-Jewish-mother clichés, unwilling to acknowledge her daughter’s orientation or even listen to her. When the story threatens to fit too neatly into a rom-com mold, the directors throw in quirky interludes — a late confrontation between Elsie and Robyn takes place at a funeral for a cat. That setting is too self-consciously cute, and the words exchanged too forced. Elsie claims that “nothing compares to lesbian drama,” but when such “drama” is so easily outdone by the charms of Canadian spectacle, it’s hard to believe her. – LA Weekly