Josh Appignanesi and Devorah Baum’s portrait of their marriage skims the fringe between docu-drama and reality TV, with disarmingly funny results.
Academic Baum is on a book tour in New York. Appignanesi has joined her with their two children – along with a babysitting niece – and a camera. As he follows her around the city, at book readings and the quieter moments in between, Appignanesi draws out Baum’s feelings towards him, their marriage, children and most other aspects of their shared and her personal life. He is often the butt of the film’s humour as they dissect the state of modern relationships, and the subject of Baum’s book – about humour and feelings – adds more spin to the proceedings. At the same time, all is not quite what it seems.
Appignanesi and Baum previously worked together on the similarly structured The New Man (2016), which looked at the ways having children might impact their lives. Husband is a direct sequel and further blurs the boundary between what is real and what has been constructed in front of the lens. Baum plays the straight foil to Appignanesi’s (mostly) fool, but both are intelligent individuals who understand the way media distorts any representation of everyday life. The film skilfully exploits this. At the same time, beneath the combination of exaggerated truth and fabricated situations, Husband succeeds in questioning aspects of modern relationships and the way parents relate to their children.