Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Married Life

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

This quirky little movie about love, infidelity and murder has definite strengths and weaknesses that land it pretty firmly in the middle of the road for me. The first thing I noticed was that it often felt like a stage play that just happened to be being recorded on film, with the dialogue very stilted and the staging very deliberate; I've seen quite a few movies of this pedigree done like this, and to be honest, I'm not a fan. I also felt like the period nature of the piece--it's set in the 40's--hurt it rather than help as it was just a bit too overwhelming and the "people were so proper back then that they would rather make small talk than acknowledge affairs" thing didn't work for me. On the other hand, the black comedy aspects were very well done and I chuckled quite a bit over the course of an hour and a half. Also, despite the complaints I had about the script feeling like it was intended for the stage most of the time, it was certainly filmed like a movie, with great range of shots and use of camera tricks. Unquestionably it's a great cast, with Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams and Pierce Brosnan all onboard. For the most part, all four of the stars turn in decent performances hampered by a plot that meanders, with McAdams being underutilized in my eyes and Brosnan shining brightest as he really embraced the exaggerated almost noir-ish nature of his character. In the end, this film's biggest problem was that it simply wasn't that interesting or captivating, even for 90 minutes, and the good acting, decent jokes and quality camerawork only elevated it to an average piece of work.

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