QUADRANGLE is an unconventional documentary about two "conventional" couples that swapped partners and lived in a group marriage in the early 1970s. Coming out of the era of free love, and struggling with the monotony of marriage and suburban life, my parents, Deanna and Paul, began swapping partners with another middle class married couple. This four-way affair became a kind of domestic living experiment when the two couples moved into one home, along with their children. While their individual marriages were failing, they found that together they were happy and thought they had discovered an alternative to divorce - a brave new world that would pave the way for how couples would live in the future. Instead it unraveled. Both couples divorced and married their foursome partners, but they could never truly separate because they were bound by the children they shared.
This film examines the story of the group marriage as told by Deanna and Paul in the present. They are forty years older and estranged, looking back in separate interviews that play simultaneously, cut together in split screen to overlap. A simulated conversation takes place as they recount their stories. Paul's archival photos of the group, woven throughout, create a visual link between the story from the past and the characters in the present. Certain themes emerge: How do we grapple with marriage, monogamy, and desire? What happens when you challenge the boundaries of social convention? And what, if anything, did we learn from all that sixties-inspired experimentation?
Photos by Paul Grappell (1970)