A retroactive review of ‘Sleeping with Other People’
By JP, Contributor
Another film that probably slipped past your radar in the last couple of years was Sleeping with Other People (2015), starring Jason Sudeikis as Jake and Alison Brie as Lainey, two people who cannot seem to make monogamy work for them. On the face of it, this is a conventional romantic comedy, filled with sexual humour and heart, but it also provides a podium to expose the prominent features of the modern hookup culture, such as the loss of virginity, relationship anxiety, infidelity, sexual addiction, and the boundaries between friendship and sexual partnership.
The history of the two characters begins in college, when they lose their virginity to each other. The implication here is that the two characters’ sexual challenges are the consequence of this one awkward, yet formative night. This is obviously an oversimplified cause for the two protagonists’ later problems, which is exactly why it is used in the film. Through its exposure, this plot device highlights that many people in modern times consider their virginity something precious, and its loss to potentially be something formative in their later sexual health.
Another modern issue that comes up, particularly with Lainey, is anxiety stemming from an unhealthy sexual relationship. She is shown coping with anxiety attacks more than once throughout the movie. Again, by being shown in the film, anxiety is exposed as an important issue affecting sexually-active urban inhabitants, though none of its underlying causes or appropriate treatments are dealt with in the film.
The principal hookup culture problem that the film’s protagonists deal with is, as the title suggests, sleeping with people other than those they are currently seeing. Jake and Lainey’s behaviours are both adulterous and fuelled by a sort of sexual addiction that demands the thrill of an adulterous sexual encounter. Once more, these issues have been watered down and moulded into comedic fodder.
Overall, Sleeping with Other People is well directed, with solid lead and supporting acting. The writing is such that, unlike many modern comedies, the trailer doesn’t contain the only funny scenes in the movie.
The principal merits of Sleeping with Other People are that it is a pretty decent romantic comedy, and that it retains a sharp relevance to a modern viewer due to its light engagement on issues that people face in the present hookup culture that many of us live in, wittingly or not.