There is no I in Threesome: the film about polyamory that isn’t quite what it seems | World news


When Jan Oliver Lucks’ fiancee left him for an additional man he was extra distraught than most: she not solely walked away together with his coronary heart however the finish of the relationship additionally meant the finish of the documentary they had been engaged on.

The pair had been collaborating for greater than a 12 months on a mission documenting their open relationship, and when his accomplice determined to go away, the filming stopped too.

“We filmed to some extent the place it wasn’t wholesome, I was filming an excessive amount of, I wasn’t listening to her. As a result of there was that type of filter between us – the digital camera. It meant all the things she mentioned or we did or mentioned went by that filter and me considering: ‘would this be good drama, would it be good for the film?’” Lucks says.

“I had my film-maker’s cap on and the telephone [camera] as a defend however I was stabbing myself in the coronary heart.”

Simply after getting engaged in late 2015, the couple agreed they’d be free to sleep with different folks, which for Lucks meant males in addition to ladies. Each had been motivated by a curiosity about non-monogamous partnerships, and Lucks additionally felt he had “wasted” his 20s and college years by not sleeping round.

“At the begin I simply wished to check out sexual issues that I hadn’t tried out earlier than and I felt like a sexual under-achiever,” Lucks tells the Guardian from his condominium in Auckland.

“Once we switched from an open relationship to a polyamorous relationships issues obtained very difficult … it was onerous for each of us”

Steadily, the association – and the guidelines the couple had made round it – led to emotional entanglements for each events, with Lucks discovering a girlfriend in Dunedin and his ex assembly a person she fell in love with.

Jealousy and self-doubt flared, however as the filming continued, Lucks put apart his rising unease in pursuit of higher and higher footage.

“I assume polyamory can work however it’s important to have plenty of endurance, time and good communication expertise,” Lucks says.

Simply as the marriage ceremony invitations had been printed, Lucks’ fiancee referred to as it off. Whereas Lucks retained his half of the footage, largely filmed selfie doco fashion – her half was gone, and so was their film.

A substitute for monogamy

Lucks, 37, is a longtime New Zealand film-maker, a product of the well-regarded Otago College pure historical past film-making course, and with one native hit already beneath his belt.

He entered a despair following the separation, considering that not solely had he misplaced his fiancee but additionally a mission he had spent years on.

“It took about two weeks to provide you with the thought of casting an actress,” Lucks recollects. “We had my half of the footage which I knew we might use after which recreate the different half.

“Clearly it was a tough time – however having this concept, meant I had focus once more and I had area to jot down myself again collectively.”

Enter Natalie Medlock, 36; a British-born New Zealand actor, director and author, who is primarily identified for her improvisational work, and an look as a nurse on native cleaning soap opera Shortland Road.

Jan Oliver Lucks and Natalie Medlock in There’s no I in Threesome



Jan Oliver Lucks and Natalie Medlock in There’s no I in Threesome. {Photograph}: Provided/ WarnerMedia Leisure

With the blessing of Lucks’ ex, Medlock was introduced in to recreate, reimagine and rebirth their love affair. She was additionally requested to be a co-writer.

“It made me actually respect and wish to honour each their sides of the story and defend Ollie as effectively and never view what he was doing as masturbatory in any method – however courageous, and weak,” Medlock says.

Key traces and scenes from the actual romance remained unchanged in the eventual characteristic film There is no I in Threesome, now taking part in on HBO Max, as did the main plot arcs.

Lucks, who had by no means acted earlier than, determined to go “methodology” together with his efficiency and successfully relived the whole romance, which he says led to sleep issues, despair and a withdrawal from recent romantic relationships.

“I felt at the time if I didn’t make a film out of it, I would have given up the love of my life for nothing and that simply felt like a double defeat.”

The twist

Medlock’s true identification as a employed actor is saved hidden till the closing section of the film when viewers – lots of whom assume the film is a documentary – are lastly let in on the secret. The end result has triggered a wave of publicity, with the New York Instances calling it “an astute examination of perspective”, whereas the Los Angeles Instances described the twist in the closing act as “stunning”.

The assembly of reminiscence, reality, fiction and storytelling intrigued Medlock.

“I was fascinated by the vulnerability at the coronary heart of the piece. And never understanding the place it was going precisely. It was actually the humanity in Ollie and the story moderately than the precise subject material [of polyamory] that intrigued me.”

Medlock has by no means formally met Lucks’ ex and needed to piece collectively her character by interplay with Lucks and improvisation.

“I needed to actually foster that relationship [with Lucks], and all of the kissing and all the things was initiated by me,” Medlock says, who additionally credit an intimacy coach. “As a result of he saved disappearing behind the digital camera, similar to he did to his ex. So that was very fascinating. I needed to always carry him again. I actually felt, ‘he’s gone’ and I will need to have felt 2% of what his ex felt – so I assume I felt plenty of empathy [for her].”

Lucks’s ex has now seen the film, and largely likes it.

Lucks describes the film as a “cautionary story”, and says that he and his ex did all the things you shouldn’t when opening up a relationship – together with dwelling aside.

Neither Lucks nor Medlock has any curiosity in coming into an open or polyamorous relationship in the future, although Lucks stays intrigued by the potentialities of a non-monogamous way of life.

“I assume most individuals assume about open relationships at one level in their lives … we thought it could be fascinating for others to see there’s an alternative choice to monogamy and we wished to indicate others how effectively it can work,” Lucks says, with fun.

“It began with plenty of guidelines about solely hooking up as soon as and it was simply about intercourse however slowly these guidelines slid away and feelings turned concerned. If I wasn’t filming I ought to have been extra current and realised I couldn’t do it.”



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