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Breaking Upwards (2010)



Average Rating: 5.4/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 5

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 1,144

My Rating

Movie Info

Their marriage turning stifling after just four years, a young New York couple attempts to escape their ennui by carefully strategizing their own breakup. Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, real-life couple Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones star as themselves in order to offer an unguarded exploration of young love, lust, and the hardships of codependency. By exploring alternatives to monogamy, creating arbitrary rules for their relationship, and doing everything in their power to


Drama, Romance

Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister Jones, Peter Duchan

Oct 12, 2010

IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (7)

Scenes meant to play as breezy and hip are more often just annoying.

July 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Breaking Upwards has its amusing and touching moments, but we're left wondering just what we're supposed to make of it all.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Comes knocking at the door like a wolf in sheep's clothing, draping reality in a fictional romantic comedy about a twentysomething NYC couple named Daryl and Zoe whose relationship is coming apart.

April 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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While Alex Bergman's photography is often impressive, Wein's editing has the short attention span of a Hollywood movie, without the accompanying cocaine rush.

April 8, 2010 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Much ado about a very rote situation, with a hammy excess of New York Jewish shtick (lead offender: Andrea Martin as Zoe's kvetching mom).

April 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Watching this movie is no more interesting than talking to any random New York couple about what makes them tick.

April 2, 2010 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wein's debut feature is kind of a mess: he withholds and warps the emotions of the main characters till there's little sympathy to be had. But though this tactic is usually enough to derail a film, it works here...

July 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Whiny and self-indulgent.

May 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

Yes, it's a little low-budget loopy. But that's part of its charm. Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein explore new relationship-ending methods with wry indie flare.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland Plain Dealer

As with most films about young love won and lost, Breaking Upwards comes from a place of genuine pain, honesty, and most importantly, delusion.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

A comfy, up-tempo view of the New York indie-verse that has strong regional flourish, feeling less like a glamour shot of NY and more like a view of the city that never sleeps from a well worn studio with a big bed.

April 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

heads and tails above the rest of the "New York Hipsters in Love" movies that have come out lately.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source:

centers around a pair of three-dimensional, neurotic, interesting characters and has a strong, certain rhythm that sets it apart.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Makes one yet again wonder why filmmakers continually attempt to create art that will last out of relationships that didn't.

March 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Breaking Upwards

A couple who are bored with their relationship incrementally break up.
Breaking Upwards is a charming, realistic depiction of a couple who are right for each other even though it feels wrong. Strong performances by director/editor/co-writer Daryl Wein and co-writer Zoe Lister Jones carry the film, which has a wry wit and some smart dialogue. And the last shot is truly heart-breaking.
There were few things about the film that I didn't like, but they were so essential to the story that they were impossible to ignore. At the beginning, the stated reason for their break up is that they're both "bored." I recall David Thewlis's monologue from Mike Leigh's Naked in which he rants against people who are bored despite having untold possibilities for engagement: "You have the universe explained to you, and you're bored with it," he says disdainfully. Equally, I recall a former teacher telling me, "If students say they're bored, then they're boring people." I have little patience for characters and real people telling me they're bored, so I was hoping that during the increments of the break-up, past issues would crop up so that we can understand that there is a deeper reason for their split. Most people in their early twenties haven't been hurt enough to deserve ennui.
Also, while on their days off, Daryl and Zoe have no shortage of other suitors. In the construction of the film's plot, this seems like an easy way out. Most often, the choices in real life aren't between a semi-fulfilling relationship and attention from new, flawed suitors (flawed certainly in Zoe's case, but not so much in Daryl's); the choices in real life are between a semi-fulfilling relationship and loneliness, which is a condition that motivates people much more than the lack of fulfillment one finds from fucking one's co-star in a bad off-Broadway play. I wanted to see these characters more vulnerable without each other, which would have made the ending of their relationship so much harder to stomach.
Overall, there is a lot to like about Breaking Upwards, and during all of my future (and one of my past) failed relationships, I'm going to use the phrase "Let's not break up; let's break upwards," but as a film, this indie comedy falls into the trapping tropes that most films of its ilk fall into, making it good enough to make me wish it were so much better.
June 11, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

A stagnant couple orchestrates an incremental break-up, spending less and less time with each other to cushion the emotional blow. This is a legit indie: low budget, mundane humor, leads who are attractive but certainly not glossy and shiny enough so that the audience has expectations. When Daryl and Zoe finally end it, it really hurts.
March 24, 2012

Super Reviewer

A realistic depiction of both the hardships and growth of a breaking relationship.
March 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

"Breaking Upwards" starts with Zoe(Zoe Lister-Jones, who wrote, produced and come to think of it does remind me a little of Kristin Scott Thomas) and Daryl(Daryl Wein, who directed, wrote, produced and edited) having sex. But this is not the hot, sweaty, furniture wrecking sex of their early relationship, it is the desultory missionary position four years into their relationship sex at a point when they are otherwise totally comfortable with each other. They decide to spend some time apart during the week to bring more energy into their relationship and mutually agree Tuesday has to be one of their together days, so they can watch "American Idol" together which might explain a thing or two.(What? No "Lost" or "The Good Wife?") This way they also have more time to pursue their respective callings. Daryl is struggling as a writer while taking in extra income as a babysitter. Zoe is an actress who auditions for commercials where she competes against amazons, while rehearsing for a play off-off-off Broadway.

While definitely rough around the edges, "Breaking Upwards" is also warm, witty and knowing in its exploration of relationships and their boundaries without any unnecessary car chases. The movie also makes great use of New York City locations, including one scene on Sixth Avenue just down the block from where I watched this. In this city, these characters are at a point where their lives are slowly coming together, post college. In the meaintime, their parents have formed an extended family with each other and are still a huge influence. This can be both a good and a bad thing as they are always there for comfort, food and laundry services but can also set a bad example for the couple.
April 18, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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