Married Life

"Good"

Married Life Review


Married Life, a new film from director Ira Sachs, feels very much like a film from a different era -- a fact that's mostly enjoyable, with a few minor exceptions. Set in the late 1940s, presumably in and around New York City, Married Life tells the story of Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), a wealthy businessman who one day confesses to his old friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan) that he intends to leave his wife and take up with his mistress. Complications arise when Harry decides the only way out of his marriage is to murder his wife, while at the same time his pal Richard goes behind his back and courts the affection of his mistress.

What's pleasurable about this film, and the way the story unfolds, is its elegant simplicity. No more than ten minutes into the movie, Sachs and his co-screenwriter Oren Moverman have skillfully limned each of the main characters' hopes and ambitions and set in motion the levers of conflict that drive the story forward. Harry wants to experience the type of romantic love that has long since vanished, if it ever existed, from his marriage with Pat (Patricia Clarkson), while she, for her part, longs for greater passion and the adolescent thrill of sex. Kay (Rachel McAdams), Harry's mistress, seeks true love for the second time after losing her husband in World War II, and Richard, a womanizing bachelor, hopes to discover the ability to form an emotional connection with a woman.

One of the better tricks Married Life has up its sleeve is its ability to remain light and jocular even as the story travels the dark woods of infidelity, betrayal, and murder. Serving as narrator, Brosnan's Richard is wry and calculating in his pursuit of Kay, and we're asked to take pleasure in his manipulations. Our sympathy spills over into the other characters as well. Sachs and Moverman are careful never to allow any one character to inhabit the moral high ground for too long, so that even as they plot and commit their treachery, it's clear that we'll be able to forgive them before too long.

Married Life isn't perfect, however. During certain portions of the film, it feels awfully slight, more like a character study, or rather four character studies, than a feature film. Of course, it does have something to say about the vulnerability, and durability, of modern marriage, the secrets we keep from loved ones, and the absurdity of our designs on happiness. But these themes are hardly original, and they don't take shape in a terribly inventive way. There is also the problem of the characters' irritatingly mannered dialogue, which is obviously meant to approximate the way wealthy people spoke to each in the years after the war, but more often sounds contrived and too perfectly articulate, as if you could hear commas and semicolons leaping out of the script.

This latter weakness is helped mightily by the film's phenomenal cast. Cooper and Brosnan manage to make even the most overwritten lines sound somewhat reasonable. Brosnan in particular is excellent. As with his work in The Tailor of Panama and The Matador, Brosnan clearly relishes pushing his dashing 007 persona into dark corners.

Married Life aims to be the sort of comedy of manners rarely produced these days, and on this count it acquits itself admirably. It is a cleverly scripted film featuring fine actors doing solid work -- nothing more, nothing less.

Wait... who's gonna serve the martinis?



Married Life

Facts and Figures

Run time: 91 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st March 2008

Box Office USA: $1.2M

Budget: $12M

Distributed by: Sony Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
Fresh: 64 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Harry Allen, as Richard Langley, as Pat Allen, as Kay Nesbitt, as John O´Brien, Annabel Kershaw as Miss Jones, Sheila Paterson as Mrs. Walsh, Erin Boyes as Becky, Elijah St. Germain as Little Charlie, Terence Kelly as Dr. Anderson, as Alvin Waters, David Richmond-Peck as Tom, Carrie Fleming as Operator

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.