Film review: Married Life

2008-07-13 00:00

Nu Metro

Married Life is a tense emotional drama about a man who decides to kill his wife. Chris Cooper plays a rather drab businessman, Harry, who is married to the lovely Pat (Patricia Clarkson).

However, he has fallen for a younger woman, Kay (Rachel MacAdams), and wants to marry her. He can’t bring himself to subject Pat to the shame and anguish of a divorce, so he decides, perfectly logically, to kill her. The story is told in narration by Harry’s rakish friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan), who has his own plans for Kay.

The film is set in 1949, and the period is evoked in the stylish sets, excitement about consumer goods that swept American suburbia after the war, and a general air of emotional repression.

However, this is where its cleverness ends. Married Life says nothing new about marriage, or anything else.The Hitchcock references are laid on thick, but there is nothing here approaching that director’s genius.

There are reasons to watch this movie, though. Clarkson is one of them, as is, rather surprisingly, Brosnan. He plays his character with a nuanced blend of seediness, sentimentality and the kind of world-weariness seen in noir heroes. MacAdams, however, in Barbara Stanwyk-like helmet hair, comes across as a false note among otherwise great performances.

For adults sidelined at the movies at the moment, this is an enjoyable, if not especially satisfying, night out.

***

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