6.5/10
3,232
86 user 56 critic

The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)

R | | Drama | 29 August 2003 (USA)
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An introspective dentist's suspicions about his wife's infidelity stresses his mental well being and family life to the breaking point.

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(novel), (screenplay)
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... David Hurst
... Slater
... Laura
Peter Samuel ... Larry
... Dana Hurst
... Mark
Gianna Beleno ... Lizzie Hurst
... Stephanie Hurst
... Leah Hurst
... Carol
Kathleen Kinhan ... Virgin
Sara Lerch ... Virgin
Lori Mirabal ... Virgin
Mark Ethan ... Conductor
... Female Patient (as Flora Martinez)
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Storyline

The movie centers on a dentist who has a strange dream that blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

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Release Date:

29 August 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La vida secreta de un dentista  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$121,769, 3 August 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,707,201, 28 December 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The headboard in the bedroom appears and disappears between scenes See more »

Quotes

Slater: These children are monsters, they should be struck... can I hit them?
David Hurst: No.
See more »

Connections

Features The Powerpuff Girls (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Lung Shadows
Written by Matt Johnson
Performed by The The
Courtesy of Epic Records and Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd.
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fine example of a different filmmaker.
28 May 2008 | by See all my reviews

2003 wasn't a particularly great year for film: although there were a few diamonds in the rough (see Kill Bill, The Station Agent, and Lost in Translation), for the most part, mainstream releases were nothing more than glorifications of the Hollywood blockbuster formula. So I suppose it comes as no surprise that Alan Rudolph's terrific film, The Secret Lives of Dentists, practically slipped by unnoticed -- not only by audiences, but by critics and award ceremonies as well. What a shame. While it isn't a spectacular film per se, The Secret Lives of Dentists is a fine example of a film-maker who tried something different and -- for the most part -- succeeded. David (Campbell Scott) and Dana Hurst (Hope Davis) are married dentists trying to form a functional family with their three daughters, and David eventually cracks under the pressure and develops an alter-ego (incarnated by Denis Leary -- not the person I would pick to be MY Tyler Durden, but whatever). The movie is very subtle -- even for an independent picture -- but it works: as the Hursts' marriage gradually crumbles under scrutiny, director Rudolph doesn't hammer us over the head with clichés. David begins to suspect that Dana is having an affair, but unlike other family dramas -- which would boil down the situation to the point where it's just a husband trying to catch his wife in the act --, Rudolph deals with the issue in relation to the rest of David's life, rather than just the present: David can't bring himself to uncover the truth about Dana for fear that it would destroy their relationship (or what's left of it), and so every action he takes is essentially a procrastination of confrontation. While not wise on David's behalf, this is a very smart move for Rudolph. He builds up immense tension throughout the film and only releases enough to keep us from dying of anxiety; by the time it's all over, we feel as if the Hursts' story is still unfinished. Screenwriter Craig Lucas (who adapted the script from a novel by Jane Smiley) has created two characters that have a life beyond the restraints of the film's running time, and he has done it masterfully. His script is marvelously low-key, making us laugh at the most unlikely moments and moving us in unexpected ways. Campbell Scott is equally slight in his performance, creating a passive-aggressive character we can't help but sympathize with, but Hope Davis (who received an Independent Spirit Award nod for the film) is the true standout: she brings her grace and complexity to a role that we might have otherwise seen as an enemy to the protagonist. Leary plays himself, so whether or not he's good is purely dependent on the viewer, but the least you could say is that he picked a decent movie for once. Add a wonderfully bizarre soundtrack (featuring a unique rendition of the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason" by Cat Power) and Rudolph's quirky direction, and you have an unexpected winner of a film. As I said before, The Secret Lives of Dentists isn't a great movie, but it's something perhaps even better: noteworthy. Either way, the next time I go to get my teeth cleaned, I won't be able to keep myself from wondering what my dentist does on the weekends.

Grade: A-


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