May 14, 2008
Review - " Married Life " (in Theaters) - By Ken Ellis
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A Sony Pictures Classics release Directed by Ira Sachs.
Directed by Ira Sachs
Screenplay by Ira Sachs and Oren Moverman,
based on the book "Five Roundabouts to Heaven" by John Bingham.
Starring: Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams.
Ira Sachs, who gave us the sleeper "Forty Shades of Blue" ("sleeper" here
meaning a thing that causes sleep, not something that becomes unexpectedly
successful), comes through this time with the smart, stylish "Married Life", a
drama/comedy/crime film about men, women, marriage et al.
Chris Cooper stars as Harry Allen, a successful, yet unhappy businessman
and husband. The reason for his unhappiness is that while he's found the
love of his life in the young and beautiful Kay (Rachel McAdams, channeling
Kim Novak from "Vertigo"), he cannot end his current marriage to Pat (Patricia
Clarkson) without causing her pain, anguish and embarrassment. But soon,
his problem is solved when he experiences an Hitchcockian epiphany: why not
just murder her with a death that would be quick and painless? As odd, yet
clear cut as this might sound, another complication arises, one which Harry
never really sees coming: his best friend, Richard (Pierce Brosnan) wants Kay
all to himself, after Harry introduces the two.
A quick note here: if you are an average looking middle aged married man and have a mistress that is a young hottie like
Rachel McAdams, never, ever, ever introduce her to a suave guy like Brosnan. Introduce her to a Steve Buscemi type,
maybe, but not James Bond himself!
Anyway, any seasoned movie fan can see where this is headed, and if there's one thing this script might suffer from it's a
certain amount of predictability. Still, the dialogue is sharp and, at times, very witty and there are some (though not many)
surprises. The film also packs as much 1940's-era style as any since "LA Confidential", from the sets, costuming and autos
right down to the street scenes and small items like deskphones. Cooper, Clarkson, Brosnan and McAdams turn in very
capable performances, as one would expect from this cast, but they don't really break new ground. In the end, the story is
summed up much like a morality play, with the third party narration (provided by Brosnan) asking the audience to "be the
judge". Well this member of the audience has accepted that responsibility and judges watching this film to be an enjoyable
way to spend an evening! A score of 6.5!