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Theater instructor Jerry starts an affair with Mary, and that starts a chain of events that affect their respective partners Terri and Barry and other characters in the film, creating a web of relationships.Written by
Entertaining if bleak with a slightly depressing moral
Jerry lives with Terri but Terri is irritated by everything he does especially the way he talks during sex and needs to analyse everything. They are friends with Barry and Mary who have sexual problems as Mary is rarely roused for sex. Jerry makes a move to meet up with Mary to have sex behind Barry's back. Meanwhile Cheri works at an art gallery and picks up people there and Jerry and Barry's friend Cary lives his sex life devoid of any care or consideration for anyone else.
I have previously seen In the Company Of Men so I was prepared for the sort of view point the director seems to take regarding the nature of men and women but even then, this is still a pretty depressing look at relationships. Our characters are barely even given names, certainly no last names, and they are rarely used when you listen. More than that the names are pretty typical the sort of names you might make up if you were put on the spot, like John Smith. The point being that these characters are not supposed to be fictional but more `everyman' characters. However is this what everyone is like? does everyone have major relationship issues and try to have affairs with their best friends etc? Do people really have stories of male rape as their best sexual experience? I doubt it this is a real condensing of the whole human experience into a handful of characters.
It works quite well because it is very frank and this kept my interest. Not shocking but I did want to keep watching because the dialogue was good. Sadly I could have cared less about the actual lives before me. As a plot I didn't get involved partly because it was so fake feeling it was obvious from day 1 that LaBute was not going to give us the luxury of even one mildly messed up relationship, no it was obvious that everything that could fail would. The dialogue does save the film as it is well written and darkly funny, however it just wasn't enough of a story instead it was rather smugly self aware.
The cast do well with the dialogue and the film is staged more like a play than a roaming film, with mostly static interior shots used. Stiller is good but doesn't excel himself. Eckhart shows how good an actor he is by playing a character so the opposite of his character in LaBute's previous film and playing it well. Patric steals the show but his character is the least developed. He is the funny one and is like Eckhart's character in `In the Company Of Men' in that he is selfish and cruel to women. However his character seems to be LaBute's ideal in this piece as he is the only one who seems to get what he wants is this the moral of the film? The female characters are weaker as you'd expect. Brenneman cuts a pathetic character and simply mops around a lot. Kinski is given little to do although Keener has a stronger part to play.
Overall I enjoyed this because it was full of good dialogue that keeps you listening because of how very frank it is. However that doesn't mean that the story or film is involving and it does feel a little distant and not based in any life I've ever lived. A bit too cruel, harsh and dark but it just about gets by on those credentials but the music of Metallica played on violin is worth watching the credits for!
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