In the press notes for Three Night Stand, opening today (January 25) at the Rio Theatre, actor Sam Huntington observes that “it’s always a bit weird when you have to bone someone on screen.”

For her own part, Meaghan Rath—Huntington’s co-star in the witty Anglo-Quebec production—was given an even weirder assignment. She had to bone Huntington in front writer-director Pat Kiely, who happens to be her boyfriend.

“Well, Pat and I have quite a sick relationship, so I think he got off on it a little,” Rath tells the Straight, maybe not totally seriously. “I mean, it is a very strange thing when your boyfriend comes up to you and says, ‘You guys are gonna have to kiss more.’”

It sounds like Kiely was bent on pushing his cast well out of their comfort zones in a film designed to provoke its audience almost as much.

As Sue and Carl, Rath and Huntington play a couple who retreat to a lodge in the Laurentians in order to fire up a sagging marriage. That big boning sequence ends in a comically painful misfire, in case you’re wondering, while matters are complicated, to say the least, when Carl discovers that a pined-for ex (Entourage’s Emmanuelle Chriqui) is now running the place.

In Rath’s admirably direct words: “He’s brought me to this lodge that they used as their fuck den.”

The film’s discomfiting comedy comes from the acutely observed lies and platitudes coming from Carl. Sue, meanwhile, busies herself doing the ugly math. It’s a beautifully shot movie, but Kiely’s camera is pitiless in capturing—at length—the internal politics of a relationship in major distress.

“I remember Sam going into the lodge at one point and saying, ‘I’m having a panic attack right now,’” Rath recalls, with a laugh. “Because Pat kept pushing us more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and it was so emotionally intense. I never experienced anything like that in my life. I wanted to kill him. I couldn’t believe he was doing this to me.”

It was also, she adds, the kind of work the 10-year acting veteran has “wanted to do for years.”

Kiely deserves further credit for refusing to cheat his audience with a false ending, situating Three Night Stand—which Rath says was influenced in part by Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives and David O. Russell’s great Flirting with Disaster—inside the growing sub-genre of the anti-romantic comedy.

“People like to feel romantic and have a happy ending,” Rath says, “but the reality is that it doesn’t always turn out that way. So that’s what I’m attracted to, that’s what Pat’s attracted to, and there’s almost a comfort in the realism that we can relate to because that’s what real life is.”

Rath also concedes that movies like Three Night Stand can level a stealth hit on the viewer's emotional innerscape. Damage might ensue.

“We wanted to elicit a reaction from the viewer, so whether you like it or you don’t, or if you have a strong reaction to it, that’s really what we were going for. And I think that’s sort of what art is. Whether it’s making people happy, or scaring them, or upsetting them, it doesn’t really matter. It’s creating a reaction,” she says. “I’ve found that our film is actually quite polarizing, and that’s what we wanted.”

For those who are possibly just skimming this article: “polarizing” is not another word for “boning”.

A Q&A with Meaghan Rath and Pat Kiely will follow the premiere of Three Night Stand at the Rio Theatre, on Saturday (January 25) at 7 p.m.