Friday, September 5, 2008


Married Life (working title: Marriage) is a drama film directed by Ira Sachs. The film is based on the 1953 John Bingham pulp mystery novel, Five Roundabouts to Heaven. The cast includes Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams.

Set in the 1940s, Married Life tells the tale of Harry (Cooper) -- a man whose faithful but emotionally distant wife (Clarkson) has become all but impossible to love. Smitten by the beautiful Kay (McAdams) but ultra-sensitive to the shame associated with divorce, Harry opts to poison his wife as a means of allowing the marriage to end with her pride still intact.

Harry's scheme soon goes horribly awry, however, when after revealing the plan to his best friend, Richard (Brosnan), Richard too falls in love with the ethereal young beauty and sets into motion a cunning plan all his own.

From the plot description and the trailer you would think that you've seen something similar to Married Life before. Devoted husband tries to kill his wife to be with his mistress. Indeed that's how it all starts out and continues until halfway there. Then, something is revealed to Brosnan's character and to us that turns the story on its head. It's not so much about what we find out but what Brosnan does with this information. It turns the movie that we thought we had already seen into a suspenseful, interesting and thoughtful piece of work.

Brosnan supplies a narration throughout the movie to tell us whats going through his head and the other characters heads, although when you think about it, how could he know what they are thinking too or what they were doing when he wasn't around to know about it. Doesn't matter, his cool sly voice goes nicely with the film's soundtrack.

The four main leads all do a fantastic job with these characters. They all have pretty much equal screen time, except for McAdams who gets the role of the mistress, which could have been really dull but she makes the character into a really nice person who really doesn't want to break up a marriage. At times she seems a little too good to be true but McAdams carries it with what little screen time she has. There is no other actor as cool and calm as Cooper. Clarkson is gorgeous for her age and is believable as her character. Brosnan comes and goes throughout the film but owns every scene he is in.

When I said that the movie starts to become more suspenseful, I don't mean it in the way that a lot of false dramatics start to happen. The suspense slowly starts to build as we know what Brosnan knows and because he won't tell Cooper, even though he has a really good reason to. In the beginning we view three of the characters as being selfish, when actually, all they want to be is happy. I don't want to give anything away, but I'll just say that in the end, things might not work out for some people but everything is as it should be.


The DVD features director's commentary and alternate endings.



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