2010 DOC NYC: Josh Freed's Five Weddings and a Felony
Source: IONCINEMA.com Festival Coverage
Josh Freed is a piece of work. The first-time filmmaker ends up making his first film a documentary where he is the unlikable star. In it, he continually dicks around women for his own selfish reasons, while thinking of himself as both the unlikely “player,” and the sweet, modest type. He freely admits to always having had issues with relationships and dangerous patterns, yet it only makes his film, Five Weddings and a Felony, frustrating to watch. His immaturity and disregard for others’ feelings is really disgusting, and it’s unclear whether his honesty about his insecurities makes it any better to take.
Freed is at both a hopeless romantic and a commitment-phobe. He has had the same pattern with romantic relationships since he was 12: he likes a girl, she doesn’t want to date him, so he dates a female friend, drawing her in and making her think he really cares for her, then he ends it abruptly by saying that he doesn’t want to be serious with her. Yet he is jealous if she goes and dates another guy. His friend Liliana, whose sister Paulina he jerks around, gives the honest truth: he doesn’t want to be with her sister, but doesn’t want her to be with anyone else. After his casual girlfriend Katja says she doesn’t want to be exclusive, Josh falls for Paulina’s beauty and sweet charm, but while he doesn’t want to be serious with her, he still keeps up correspondence and messing with her mind.
Freed’s film is an extension of his passion for filmmaking, and he freely says that he was jealous of Katja because she was having a successful screenwriting career while he couldn’t get a film started. So Paulina, being a schoolteacher and more vulnerable, is like his own revenge. What is awful is that Freed keeps a front as being shy and modest and cute, drawing in girls by being artistic and self-effacing, when in fact he is narcissistic, self-absorbed, shallow, and still playing mind games with women like when he was a kid. He is personally jealous of his friends who are getting married, yet can’t find it in himself to maintain a healthy relationship with a woman.
Five Weddings and a Felony has been called a “compelling portrait of modern love,” but it isn’t. It’s one man’s selfish intentions towards romantic relationships, where he wants to be adored and fawned over, yet cannot bring himself to get past the puppy love stage and deal with the everyday truth of maintaining a relationship like a grown man. Freed is fully aware of his habits, yet doesn’t seem able to really change them. Talk is cheap, and actions are the true test of whether one is able to grow up or not.