By Dylan Boom | Drama
4 couples argue about their relationships -- in one home, in a single shot.

Four different couples of different ages, backgrounds and situations are negotiating difficult moments in their relationships.

Yet in their uncertainty, conflict, fears and doubts, their arguments all begin to sound the same. But as they work through their conflicts, they begin to discover that it may take the same kind of humor, understanding and honesty to get them all through it.

Written and directed by Dylan Boom, this short romantic drama explores the nature of conflict at different stages in relationships. The film is unique in its structure and creative approach, using beautiful camerawork and moody, evocative lighting to seamlessly segue from one couple to the next, each amid their particular fight.

Beginning and ending with the image of a couple’s intertwined hands, the film is almost like a Moebius strip of strung-together snapshots, each portraying a couple hitting a crisis point and achieving a panoramic feel in its entirety. We don’t see the beginning or end of any one couple’s scene, but they all are joined together into one “uber-argument,” highlighting the universal difficulty of human relations.

The writing has a solid eye and ear for how people communicate — or rather, miscommunicate, as they make hurtful assumptions and throw around accusations. While the dialogue has clues to each couple’s specific situation, it also captures the universality of personal conflict, especially in how all parties fall into a dance of defensiveness.

The performances, too, achieve a unique balance of intimate specificity with universality. The cast is all solidly excellent, hitting emotional beats with both subtlety and precision. But they deliver the dialogue at a similar registry and rhythm, highlighting again how conflict itself is the subject of the film. It’s only at the end — when we reach the older and hopefully wiser couple — that we see the way out of the circular loop of argument and disagreement.

“Pieces” riffs on the oft-touted idea that couples essentially have the same argument throughout their relationship. As one character says, “It’s just the same thing over and over again.” But as they come to realize, the problem isn’t the person but the dynamic between them. And each couple must decide if that shared terrain is something to fight over, or worth fighting for.

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