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Married Life
2 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Ira Sachs

Written By:
Ira Sachs, Oren Moverman, John Bingham

Cast:
Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams, Carrie Fleming, Maria Marlow, Sean Tyson, Timothy Webber, David Wenham, Kathleen Duborg, Fred Keating, Terence Kelly, Annabel Kershaw, Ty Olsson, Pauline Crawford, David Richmond-Peck, Dolores Drake, Sheila Paterson, Erin Boyes, Rebecca Codling, Malcolm Boddington, Dale Floyd, Sheila Paterson, Suzanne Ristic, Alex Stevens, Anna Williams

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Married Life (2008)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
March 13th, 2008

'Married Life', from Ira Sachs, seems inspired by Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven, itself a reexamination of themes touched upon by Douglas Sirk, whose films explored the societal values of 1950s America, often in the form of melodrama. 'Married Life' fully embraces its time period, perfectly capturing the overall setting, from the fashion to the music (it opens with a song by Doris Day). We meet Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), a mild-mannered businessman, quiet and unassuming, completely ordinary in every visible or tangible way. His best friend, Richard (Pierce Brosnan) is more or less the total opposite, a suave, outgoing type, to whom Harry can confidently reveal his deepest secrets and desires. Harry is unhappy with his marriage, to Pat (Patricia Clarkson). He still loves Pat, but has drifted away from her emotionally, and has fallen for a younger woman named Kay (McAdams). What a stunning beauty she is. She is a war widow, with a flawless complexion, a dress that fits just right to accentuate her figure, she could have any man she wanted, and she seems to want Harry, but maybe not as much as he wants her. Richard playfully flirts with her, drops innuendos and shameless (yet apparently successful) pick-up lines, visits her behind Harry's back, trying to steal her away from him, as subtly and cautiously as he can. He cannot believe, upon actually meeting Kay, what she could possibly see in the reserved, mousy Harry. Harry's relationship with Pat still contains plenty of tenderness, even if it lacks honesty. Harry wants to be with Kay, but finds he simply cannot walk out on Pat, or even put her through the humiliation of a divorce. So, he decides to kill her, slowly rather than suddenly, to provide the illusion perhaps of gradual deterioration and death by sickness. The story is narrated at certain moments by Richard, and never feels intrusive or superfluous, mainly because Brosnan is so smooth, and Richard is the character we come to identify with the most; we are seeing most of these events through his eyes, and he is likable despite his flaws, which involve, of course, duplicity and a talent for lying and betrayal, but then, Harry is not without these qualities himself.

Cooper and Clarkson are fantastic; Clarkson especially infuses her role with vividness and energy while Cooper remains sincere and low-key, but both are immediately convincing and interesting. And McAdams is a knockout. 'Married Life' surprisingly enough could be credited in part as a comedy, even when it dips into darker material, rarely does it feel gloomy. It works also as romance and suspense, but comedy always seems to stay at the forefront, deftly blending with these other genres. The dialogue is smart, fresh, and amusing, especially when it is delivered by Richard, which is Brosnan at his most charming, devious, and narcissistic. Here is an adult movie that happens to be rated PG-13, so that shows excellent restraint, it could have been edgier, with more sex, nudity, violence, or profanity, but there is no need for any of it. It finds a comfortable rhythm and pace and sticks with it, and ends up being a rewarding and fulfilling entertainment.

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