Swanberg uses and abuses the meta trope as his own personal therapy in this and I can't decide if it was an audacious display of self-reflection or another masturbatory display of vanity. The film ends with him and his wife summing up very honestly what this film truly is, and again, I am unsure whether he's laughing at us for watching it or making art out of inward critique.
Maybe there are two type of people in the world, people who think "The Zone" is extremely boring or people who think "The Zone" is extremely enthralling. I am latter. At first, this movie's mysteriously awkward like a cursed videotape disguising itself as a leaked celebrity sex tape. During a watch, I thought "WTF, Swanberg really goes crazy?????". But real crazies is..... interestingly batshit movie I deeply loved.
What was so damn important about the threesome scene that it became the centerpiece of this flick? The filmmaker's motivation was non-existent, so the audience ends up suffering through this film for something that was never there - not cool. The only thing that kept me from shutting it off was watching Kate Lyn Sheil - she reads well on screen.
What I found most powerful was the matching of geometry, for example, between the first sex scenes and the three layers of the narrative. What's compelling about love triangle plots is that they are unstable/unbalanced, this film knows this implicitly and relays it on all levels of its construction. But was I having a good time watching it? Could it have been a bit more playful? I don't know.
With such a sensational ending, Swanberg brings realness and humanity to the usually detached and cold "meta" movie subgenre. He brutally breaks the fourth wall in order to cross the ironic distance filmmakers impose upon themselves. Filmmakers are real and human after all. They do exist in real life. They are not merely robotic storytellers, ironically superimposed upon the characters, like an extension of fiction.