Plot: What’s it about?
Over three million Americans do it, but most do so under the radar, even their friends and family don’t know about it. The people who do partake do so with others however, which results in a series of networks, from small ones to nation wide circles. So what is this we’re talking about? Well, to be blunt, these people love to swing and that means have sex with others, with very little off limits. Aside from male to male, these groups relish in all sorts of sexual delights, from numerous gang sessions to lesbian encounters. The swingers have magazines, newsletters, and even huge conventions, all to spread the word and broaden their horizons. So just who are these swingers and what makes them become involved in this madness? In The Lifestyle, we’re shown various swinging couples and in the end, we learn that not only are these people not freaks, but most are just as normal as a person could be. The couples share their stories of how they got involved in the process, some unique memories, and also how the choice has changed their relationship. This look inside the lifestyle of swinging offers insight into what happens, but also the people that make up the participants.
I know this seems more like a porno than a documentary, but this is more focused on the people than the acts, although some short clips are shown. But little is shown in the snippets of footage, aside from a breast or two and some sexual motions. So if you want a cheap thrill, then this release will be a let down, but if you’re interested in the swinging culture, The Lifestyle is an informative and entertaining piece. The film is made up of a lot of interviews with the various couples, as well as some behind the scenes of parties, conventions, meetings, and like I said, a few shots of the folks engaged in the deed. The interviews are the best portion of the documentary, as the people discuss all sorts of topics and in the end, reveal that for the most part, they’re normal and usually, dull people. But then, I suppose that boredom is cured somewhat by the sex parties and such, which they admit and talk about their reasons for getting into the whole scene. This is a no holds barred look into the people who make up the swinging culture and it never passes judgment, which is one of the picture’s finest traits. I recommend this release as a rental to those interested, especially if watched with others, to see what kind of discussions turn up.
Video: How does it look?
The Lifestyle is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This looks about as good as you’d expect, given the nature of the film and the equipment used to capture the images. The picture has an unrefined, documentary look to it, but come on, I’d be shocked if that wasn’t the case. There is some edge enhancement at times, but not a lot and in the end, no instances were too distracting. The colors seem in balance, the flesh tones appear natural, and the contrast is stable, more than effective for this material. This image level won’t leave you breathless, but I found it to be more than acceptable.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not much to discuss here, folks. This is a dialogue driven documentary in all respects, aside from some music and a few choice background noises. So while the track included isn’t a dynamic surround option that’ll rattle the speakers, it more than handles the needs of this material. The music comes off well enough when it arrives, while dialogue is clean and crisp at all times, never harsh or hard to understand.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc includes some production notes, files on the crew, a selection of scenes unused in the final cut of the film, and additional information & advice on swinging.