TORONTO — Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk are no strangers to putting their marriage on display for public scrutiny, but in their new documentary “I’m Going to Break Your Heart” the musicians go a step further by inviting cameras into some uncomfortably tense situations.
In one scene, the couple spiral into an argument over creative freedom while composing a song together, and in another the layers of their emotional disconnection are peeled back with the help of a marriage counsellor.
It’s the kind of access you rarely see from Canadian musicians, who don’t often speak openly about relationships. But Maida suggests there’s value in revealing the steps they’ve taken to mend fractures that formed throughout 19 years of marriage and parenting three children.
“I don’t think we’re embarrassed by it,” the Our Lady Peace frontman says while sitting alongside his wife. “I would’ve been five years ago.”
Kreviazuk chimes in with a more decisive perspective on the emotional rawness she portrays in the counselling sessions.
“I think it would be great to not be embarrassed of that — if we could all not be so worried about what other people think,” she says.
“I love excellence but the place I most want it is in my home and with my partner. That’s my No. 1 priority.”
At the centre of “I’m Going to Break Your Heart,” showing at Calgary’s National Music Centre on Feb. 8, is the quest for the couple to rediscover passion for each other through music.
After five years of stalled plans, they resolve to escape their daily demands and temporarily resettle in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a self-governing archipelago off the coast of Newfoundland that’s a territory of France.
The isolated environment offers the setting for their project Moon vs. Sun, in which they create and perform music as a duo, to finally take shape. Kreviazuk and Maida push through late-night songwriting sessions where they clash over how to express their vision. Their single “Lowlight” is due for release on Friday.
Planning to bring their project to cities across the country as part of a concert tour later this year, they’ll also launch a podcast tentatively called “The Together Space” which interviews other couples who collaborate in their work.
“I don’t think you’d really understand these songs if you don’t (see) how they were conceived — that context is so crucial,” Maida says.
“It doesn’t really make sense to just show the songwriting if you don’t show the process of us in a relationship.”
Shaping that footage into a documentary proved more frustrating than either of them expected, Maida says. Certain editors felt the story thrived on the clashes, rather than the creation of their album, so he says they would splice together separate therapy sessions to ratchet up the conflict.
“We saw some edits that we were like, ‘Why are you trying to make us look like we don’t love each other?'” Kreviazuk adds, pointing out they’ve participated in marriage coaching for 12 years.
“You can really play with that (and) make it look like dart after dart with no space for healing.”
Maida, 48, says watching an outsider’s version of the film take shape led him to seriously consider learning post-production software so that he could recut the film himself.
“I saw how quickly a choice could be made that just shifted the whole thing,” he says.
“It was inauthentic. Never mind it made us look terrible, it was like you’re telling lies now. We’re trying to be as real, open and honest as possible and now you’re manipulating that. And so, you’re fired. And so we went through this process for a year.”
Eventually the documentary began screening for test audiences in Los Angeles and the couple listened while others dissected their relationship. Fingers were pointed in both directions, with some saying Maida acted like a jerk while Kreviazuk came across as needy.
“People were laughing,” Maida remembers. “They were angry. They said, ‘Would you get divorced?'”
Kreviazuk, 44, says she’s come to accept that viewers might insert their own experiences into her marriage, but she prefers to focus on the positivity the documentary is bringing out.
Since the film’s trailer debuted earlier this month she’s heard fans say it inspired them to reconnect with their own partners. She’s saving those messages on her phone as a reminder that speaking about the ups and downs of their marriage has rewards.
“I don’t really care if somebody thinks it’s a fail, because all I see here is a massive success,” Kreviazuk says.
“I often feel like we’ve been together so long that it’s him and I against the world. I really love that.”
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David Friend, The Canadian Press