A cynical take on Two in the Bush might consider the slew of non-(hetero)normative identities and relationships it addresses – bisexuality, polyamory, dominatrices – a try-hard box-ticking attempt at LGBTQ+ filmmaking.
Though it sounds hyper-woke on paper, Two in the Bush isn’t out to prove anything. This is diverse storytelling of the least self-conscious and perhaps most valuable kind; it preaches nothing, offering restorative representation for those often neglected or stereotyped by cinema.
You Me Her, a Netflix original series tracking a developing polyamorous relationship, has consistently under-delivered on its fascinating premise. Madalinski’s film features a very similar setup yet bests Netflix’s attempt in many ways. Rather than splitting time between each member of the “throuple” in question, Two in the Bush commits to Emily’s perspective and therefore excels in engaging the audience’s empathy. Despite some of the more unconventional romantic scenarios she encounters, many of Emily’s problems are relatable; she goes on bad Tinder dates and struggles to find direction in her career.
As Emily’s friend Rosa, Melissa DuPrey gives the film’s standout riotous performance. Her arc tempers the heartache and angst of Emily’s experiences with welcome fun and frivolity. The fact that she largely functions as a sounding board and proxy for Emily’s development, however, is a disservice to both character and performer. Her subtly included personal subplot in the latter half is as gratifying as it is overdue. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the film’s unsatisfying conclusion.
This sensitive and restrained portrait of a polyamorous relationship is admirable for giving more attention to Emily’s journey as an individual than her place in romantic unions. Madalinski refuses to define her in these terms. The hurried closure reached in the final minutes, though, feels forced and false – more like the wish fulfilment of a mediocre heteronormative Hollywood romcom.
CAST: Sarah Mitchell, Travis Delgado, Caitlin Aase, Melissa DuPrey, Adriana Leonard
DIRECTOR: Laura Madalinski
WRITERS: Kelly Haas, Laura Madalinski
SYNOPSIS: An unconventional romantic comedy about dungeons, a fish named Archimedes and the many forms that love takes.