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The movie is set in the Pacific Northwest; specifically, Washington state. We know this from a glimpse of a license plate, the craftsman architecture of the two houses, and the mature, rich landscapes in between. The setting, like the scrutiny of the four main character's lives, is defined by the narrowness of the camera's field-of view. The one commercial street in town is only seen in the reflection of a store window, a shot of a non-descript auto-yard, or the tunnel of a tree-lined suburban sidewalk. The lush, wooded landscape is understood as an immediate presence in the domestic and professional lives of the characters; a steep hill, railroad tracks, a rushing stream, and a path over an old steel bridge are revisited again and again by the characters in their capacities as lovers, parents and friends. Written by
There was a Bergmanesque quality to "We Don't Live Here Any More," recalling the passionate stories and deep psychological insights into characters in the films of the Swedish auteur filmmaker. Like Bergman, director John Curran offered a sensitive touch to the film's deliberate style of pacing and the still moments where the characters seemed lost in thought.
The story of "We Don't Live Here Any More" focuses on two married couples in adulterous relationships. The physical environments helped to convey the essence of how mismatched the individual characters were in their marriages. The characters of Jack (Mark Ruffalo) and Edith (Naomi Watts) would have seemed much more at home in the cheerful and immaculate house. By contrast, Hank (Peter Krause) and Terry (Laura Dern) would have found a better fit in the cluttered, bohemian-style home. All four performances were moving and believable. From the film's opening scene, it was easy to see how the characters were propelled to one another.
This was not a perfect film. It would have been more true to life to focus on the emotional layers of characterization instead of the sex. For the most part, the four characters seemed like good parents, and it was difficult to imagine where they would find the time to set up their trysts and be away from home for protracted periods. The genius of Bergman was to tap into those deep layers of emotional pain, which seemed remarkably absent in this film. Instead of heading out into the forest or into the car, it would have been revealing to learn more about the characters' feelings in their own homes and in their own words.
Still, after viewing "We Don't Live Here Anymore," I found myself reflecting on the characters and the relationships many days later. And that is a sign of a good film!
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