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|Index||52 reviews in total|
Saw this last night at the premiere, and "Straight to Betamax" could
not be more wrong. This is actually the first intelligent, smart and
wonderfully acted film of the year, and both Patricia Clarkson and
Chris Cooper give wonderful performances in a story which is
intriguingly told and compellingly filmed.
I will agree with a few others that Pierce Brosnan seems a bit miscast in this picture, but not to the point that it ruins the film. Additionally, some of Rachel McAdams' dialogue seems a bit out of place for a character like her's during the period in which this story is set (it is supposed to take place in 1949), but she gives a great performance overall and her character is, for the most part (other than a few bad bits of out of place dialogue) fairly believable.
But Cooper and Clarkson are really wonderful in this film and Ira Sachs and company have done a terrific job with this story. Bravo.
I was at the premiere of Married Life tonight, and I must say, it's a
winner! Some of the scenes in the movie rival the best Hitchcockian
comedy of manners. Sachs is always leading us through the story on two
levels. With one eye we are immersed and involved in the story, while
the other floats at a distance and examines the four brilliantly
portrayed characters as representations of the human condition.
Married Life surfs a fine line between the comic and the tragic that is uncomfortable to acknowledge. But humor definitely wins out in the end, leaving us with an ironic but optimistic view of the flaws that increasingly populate our public and private lives as we grow older. Cooper and Brosnan achieve a fascinatingly contradictory friendship between two men that is unlike any other I've seen on screen in a long time.
I love MARRIED LIFE!! It is a well crafted and beautifully written
movie. By appearing to be a traditional noir, the film plays on the
audience's expectations of the genre but then turns out to be something
very different--something far more sad, funny and soulful. By having
the traditional voice-over and haunting music at the outset, MARRIED
LIFE subverts the viewer's expectations and draws us into a story that
is utterly unique.
Characters in the film are not whom they appear to be--I like how all the leads are introduced as archetypes (e.g., the unhappily married business man, the cad, the long suffering wife, the pretty young widow) but each not only turns out to be different than expected, all four go through some sort of transition that deepens their humanity. They may be imperfect people and lacking in insight, but the audience feels empathy for their struggles. Given their array of poor choices, this is pretty amazing--their yearnings are poignant, even when their actions are deeply misguided. Humans are capable of being incredibly narcissistic and giving at the same time--the movie illustrates this with a mix of humor and pathos. The characters may be unable or unwilling to stop their most primal urges, yet we are rooting for them to find some happiness all the way to the end.
This film is wonderfully shot. Period details are rendered with loving care--whether it is the glorious costumes or the sweeping set design. Performances are top notch -- a true ensemble cast who look and sound like they are from a bygone era. A rich score magnifies the shifting moods without giving you whiplash. This is a complex movie that demands we see the world in shades of gray -- life is never simple. Especially married life!
Before I saw this film, I knew two things about it: The 4 lead actors,
and it took place in the early 50's. After seeing Patricia Clarkson in
"Far From Heaven," I was anxious to see her play in this period again.
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this film. At first I didn't know what to make of it, or where it was going. It is a dark comedy. The twists and turns of the film are completely unexpected. It kept me on my toes, and the 4 lead performances were great.
Without going into the synopsis too much (you can find that anywhere) if I had to compare this film to another..... I'd say it's kind of a darker, funnier "Closer", but set in the early 50's.
What I found interesting about the film is that it was incredibly complex, well-written characters, in very complex situations, set in a very simple time.
Let's talk about Patricia Clarkson for a minute. This is an actress who should've been nominated for several Supporting Actress Oscars by now. (The Green Mile, All The Real Girls, Far From Heaven, Lars and the Real Girl.. to name a few). I hope she finally gets some recognition as the Leading Actress in this film.
Rachel McAdams: This proves her acting abilities. She is incredible in this film. She is so beautiful, subtle, and so commanding. Definitely her most mature role to date.
Of course, I expect nothing less from Oscar-winner Chris Cooper. This proves to me though that he can carry a film, and not just be a strong supporting character.
Brosnan is great too in the least "meaty" I'd say of the 4 leading roles. He is very suave, but also provides some unexpected comic relief.
Great film! Go and see this.
Great cast, a very good recreation of "the times" (1940s) in almost
every way (hey, I was "there").
Costumes/cars authentic and I loved watching all of the "smoking" (e.g. in nice restaurants, etc.) scenes.Though I'm a non-smoker and HATED those who puffed while I dined, for some reason those scenes made me a bit nostalgic (probably because I did not have to actually breathe-in that poison).
When the movie ended I wanted more however (and it is tantalizing/frustrating to read in another Thread that there is a much longer version of this film that was deemed not the right fit for current theatrical release).
Enjoyable and fun film. Cooper/Clarkson perfect (as always) and I feel Pierce is very underrated as someone who is way more than a "pretty face".
Lots of fun - an adult movie that keeps you guessing about how the
characters will understand themselves. A sort of farce, a sort of
mordant comedy, driven by id, but on the surface well-mannered &
careful, this film features a quartet of talented actors who
consistently entertain & provoke us to think about what lies beneath
our own happiness - or lack of it.
The weakest link is Rachel McAdams - luscious & pretty but not sexy-juicy. David Wenham is underused - he's such a creative, pithy, strongly male actor it's a shame his part isn't larger. Minor quibbles as the film works extremely well as it is. The sets & costumes are perfect, except that Brosnan's hair style is more '65 than '49, but maybe he's just ahead of his time.
Brosnan is excellent as slimy snake. Chris Cooper is great, & believable as a man driven more by his fantasies of love than by really feeling love. But why not a few hot necking scenes at least? For a movie about sex & love, there are NO sex/love scenes, except for one half-lit dark second or two.
Patricia Clarkson - wow - gorgeous, the most interesting character in the film really; nuanced, layered deep expression of real character. The wise one who sacrifices most - she's the one that really loves, despite her protests to the contrary.
See it - you will be entertained, provoked, & perhaps finally comforted, in a slightly twisted way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The biggest problem with MARRIED LIFE, the movie not the state of
existence, is the tone set by its title. Before even setting foot in
the theatre, your mind is filled with preconceived notions about the
likelihoods the film will deliver. You cannot expect a film called
MARRIED LIFE to show long term couples just as happy now as they were
when they first met. In fact, in these cynical times, you might likely
be disappointed if you didn't see spouses abusing each other, scheming
and plotting against the other or, if you want to be old fashioned,
just plain cheating on each other. Perhaps to offset these
expectations, writer/director, Ira Sachs, sets his story in the 1940's,
a supposedly simpler time when people were married and stayed that way
despite their personal unhappiness. Even a setting as delicately
composed as this one is not a good enough disguise for its contemporary
sensibility. The film's fate seems sealed as soon as the opening
credits begin to roll. Similar in design and manner to television's
"Desperate Housewives", a show that has built its reputation on couples
scheming, they seem to announce Sach's intention to give us exactly
what we expect. Only when the final animated frame settles on a city
skyline and you expect the real thing to take its place, Sachs reveals
that it is in fact a reflection. With the lens pointing inward now, I
wonder if I've spoken too soon.
Like the beginning of a marriage, for a while, it is good. The strings of the score swell and sweep you up into the sentiment like a warm wind taking you for a dance in the sky overlooking a quiet family-friendly suburban street. This particular street is home to Harry and Pat Allen (Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson). The two have been married for what might as well be forever and they still cherish and respect each other but whether they still love each other is a question that looms over their lives like a heavy cloud. Harry believes that love is defined by the desire to give constantly to the other person. Pat believes that love is sex. Despite their definitions being categorically on different pages, they are a solid, functional couple. However, Harry has found another woman, Kay (Rachel McAdams in a refreshing return that is more tender and vulnerable than past performances) for whom continuously being doted on is the perfect compliment to her lonely life. I suppose it doesn't hurt that she is younger and beautiful but Harry conveniently avoids seeing this as the motivating factor for his affection.
And so Harry finds himself in quite the pickle. He doesn't want to burden his wife with the embarrassment of a divorce but yet he cannot deny that he is no longer in love with her. Harry is a sensible businessman who lives his life with order and reason and is still able to embrace his more romantic sensibility, wanting his life to embody the love he feels. He racks his brain to come up with the tidiest, most logical solution to his dilemma and somehow, the best plan he can come up with is to kill his wife. He rationalizes that this will cause the least amount of pain to all involved, including his children. Is it me or is this the least rational course of action? Essentially, this becomes MARRIED LIFE's main storyline and as it is ridiculous in concept, it also serves to undermine the intelligence of what was otherwise a fairly engaging film. Even Sachs seems unsure of this whole direction as he throws in a couple of painfully obvious scenes about how death can take away misery rather than add to it. If Sachs isn't buying it, I'm not sure how he thought anyone else would.
Despite its shortcomings, MARRIED LIFE does plant a few seeds of wisdom in its perfectly tended garden. The banalities of spending every day of your life with the same person are accepted by most of the characters as a perfectly normal piece of the pie. With decades past between their time and ours, have we really changed all that much? There are so many things happening and left unsaid in any marriage with both partners none the wiser. Subsequently, we have fine-tuned an uncanny ability to exist in a state of comfortable misery. We may look elsewhere for distraction but so many never walk away from what they know isn't working. Applying that same logic makes sitting through MARRIED LIFE entirely acceptable while you wonder what's playing next door.
In 1949, the middle-aged executive Harry (Chris Cooper) and his wife
Pat Allen (Patricia Clarkson) are the example of a happily married
couple. One day, Harry invites his best friend, the bachelor Richard
Langley (Pierce Brosnan), to have lunch with him and Harry tells him
that he is in love with the widow Kay Nesbitt (Rachel McAdams).
However, he is afraid to ask the divorce to Pat that would have her
heart broken. When Kay joins them for having lunch, Richard feels
attracted by the sexy woman. Sooner Richard accidentally discovers that
Pat has a love affair with an acquaintance, but he does not disclose
the situation to Harry or Pat, otherwise he would not have any chance
with Kay. Richard dates Kay in many occasions as a friend trying to
convince her that Harry would never leave his wife. Meanwhile Harry
blends Pat's antiacid with poison expecting to kill her and spare his
wife from the humiliation of a divorce. But when Kay breaks with Harry,
he realizes that he has just lost his mistress, his best friend and
probably his wife.
"Married Life" is a cynical film about the hypocrite relationships among the husband, his wife, his younger mistress and his best friend with a disappointing ending. Narrated by the best friend, the melodramatic story could be shorter and have a better conclusion with black-humor instead of the conventional one. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Vida de Casado" ("Married Life")
With Married Life, director Ira Sachs has pulled off a cinematic hat
trick of the highest order. This marvelous new movie manages to be at
once droll comedy, gripping suspense drama, and stylish 1940s period
piece. As light-hearted film noir, it leaves the viewer guessing from
start to finish. Sex! Murder! Intrigue! What next? At the same time,
Married Life boasts engaging, emotionally truthful performances --
particularly from Cooper and Clarkson -- that linger in the mind long
after the closing credits.
Go see this film--or regret it for your entire (married or unmarried) life!
Ira Sachs's dark comedy 'Married Life' is an intriguing little film set in the 40s/50s. Dealing with complex relations, it somewhat portrays the men as selfish and the female as hungry for love...but there are layers and it's not all so black and white. What's also interesting is the unusual cast that includes Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Chris Cooper and a refreshing Rachel McAdams. Though the pairing between McAdams and Brosnan is awkward, the chemistry works better between her and Cooper. Brosnan seems miscast but not to the extent that it ruins the film experience. McAdams is beautiful and pulls off her part quite well but it is Clarkson and Cooper who give the best performances. I'm also surprised that people have taken this film too seriously (to the point that they missed the humour which I thought was creatively done and hilarious). The element of drama is there but how could one miss the comedy? Sach's writing is superb and the direction is solid. I liked how the events unfold and Coopers's character's attempts to get what he wants and his surprise reaction towards the unexpected results. I find the title a little misleading. Yes, the film is about a 'dying' marriage and its complexities but the title is a little too vague and the film focuses on much more than marriage. The score gracefully brings the feel of the 40s. Overall, Sachs has made a clever unconventional black comedy in a period piece.
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