Sunday, 25 January 2009

“Married Life” – The Movie. A Review of the 2008 Film on BLU RAY.






“Did We Build Our Happiness On The Unhappiness of Others…?”

Name-checking the top grade cast in "Married Life" - a sort of 40's/50's film noir tale of marital shenanigans - will be enough to draw most movie lovers in. And while Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams are typically lovely, deep and believable in their roles, it's the two men - Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper - who really get to shine.

Its directed by IRA SACHS (pictured below) and adapted by him and ORAN MOVERMAN from the 1953 book by JOHN BINGHAM called "Five Roundabouts To Heaven".
Narrated by Richard (Brosnan's character), you just know you're going to enjoy this story when you hear him casually say, "I always thought marriage was a mild kind of illness...like the Flu or Chicken Pox...to which I was safely immune". Brosnan's tone throughout the narration changes - at first it's sly and laidback and suave - so you're not sure if he's the good guy or the bad guy - or both - and nor do you want to know - because in this clever and beautifully revealing film, the finding out is half the fun...

And who out there in movie land doesn't want to see a film with Chris Cooper in it? Harry (Cooper's character) is in a stagnating but not entirely loveless marriage to Pat (Clarkson). Then along comes the young, alive and beautiful Kay (McAdams) who stirs Harry's very soul - but alas also grabs the loins of the caddish Richard (Brosnan) - his lifetime buddy and pal. Friendships are tested, plots are formed and everyone drinks loads of scotch and smokes acres of cigarettes and acts as if nothing is wrong...

The boys as you can imagine - given meaty material - are great. Warm, cold, up, down - Cooper layers his performance - and he slyly fools you too by doing so. Brosnan is still great eye-candy and effortlessly charming - caddish one moment - genuine the next - he plays his character both ways - and does it very, very well. McAdams is enough to make most grown men weak at the knees and Patricia Clarkson - who probably has the least likeable of roles - makes you empathize with here character as a real person - a great performance from a genuine class act. In fact, you can just 'feel' how all the actors are rising to the slyness in the story - and you suspect they thoroughly enjoyed both working off each other and making this intelligently written little gem.

Visually it's period Americana - were in MAD MEN territory here - it's gorgeous to look at - and very "Shawshank" in places on the outdoor scenes - an absolute blast to view on Blu Ray.

The real unexpected pleasure, however, comes in 3 fully realised Alternate Endings that are almost as enjoyable as the entire movie - and without spoiling it - they take the story to other places - and brilliantly too. Brosnan - in particular - is exceptionally good.

There's a commentary by director and co-script writer Ira Sachs, but it's a damn shame there isn't an on-set segment - because here's actors and a movie you admire - and that would have been just great to get the writer and director's perspective too outside of hearing the entire film commentary

Not a masterpiece for sure, but a great little watch nonetheless and one that deserves your attention.

"Did We Build Our Happiness On The Unhappiness of Others...?" Brosnan asks towards the end of his voice over - watch this 'classy' little noir thriller to find out...


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