Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper star in stylish crime drama/romance.
Married Life (2007) is a stylish and sophisticated little crime drama/romance that touches on themes of betrayal, deception and the true meaning of love. The film has a decidedly noirish tone. Director Ira Sachs does a great job in capturing the look and feel of film dramas from the 1940s. And the dialogue harkens back to the bygone era when smart, well-written dialogue was as important as car chases and CGI are today. The screenplay is based on John Bingham's book Five Roundabouts to Heaven and was adapted by Sachs and screenwriter/director Oren Moverman.
Murder: A Painless Way To End A Marriage
The film is set in 1949 and is about a successful, middle-aged businessman named Harry Allen (Chris Cooper) who wants to leave his wife of many years for his lovely young mistress Kay Nesbitt (Rachel McAdams). He confides in his close friend, Richard Langley (Pierce Brosnan), about his dilemma and even introduces him to Kay. Richard is surprised to learn about Harry's affair and his plans to leave his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson), as he always thought the two had a pretty strong and happy marriage.
Harry is concerned that when he tells Pat about his affair and his plans to leave her, it will be too much for her to bear and believes that the only decent and merciful thing to do is to murder her so she won't have to suffer: "I can't stand to see anyone suffer. You know how I am," he tells Richard. Of course, Harry never tells Richard about his plan to murder Pat, but Richard eventually starts to catch on. While Harry devises his plan to do away with Pat, he asks Richard to look in on Kay from time to time, because he's worried that she might get lonely while he's away. This is probably not the most shrewd idea on Harry's part, being that Richard is a notorious playboy with matinee-idol good looks and bucket loads of charm and charisma. Richard starts to fall for Kay, and she slowly starts to reciprocate those feelings, adding yet another complication into Harry's predicament.
Compelling Film Bogged Down By Long And Dreary Exposition
The film gets off to a slow start but eventually picks up steam when Harry's begins formulating his murder plan. The exposition dragged on too long and could've have been trimmed down and gotten to the action quicker. The film would have been much more effective had Harry's murder plan kicked into gear sooner. Nonetheless, it is still a very engrossing and entertaining film.
Film Boasts Stellar Performances from Cast
All the main cast members deliver strong performances. McAdams is surprisingly good in her role of Kay. And Brosnan effortlessly turns on the devilish charm as Richard. He’s the only character in the film who knows all the angles, and it's fun to watch him play everyone like a deck of cards. But he's not a complete scoundrel and feels guilty about his actions—but not guilty enough to stop. The character in a lesser actor's hands would have been much more unappealing, but Brosnan makes you like and care about Richard, even when he's behaving badly. And Clarkson is impressive in her role of Pat. The talented, award-winning actress rarely turns in a bad performance.
But the standout of the cast is Cooper, who turns in a powerful, nuanced performance as Harry. Some of his best moments had no dialogue at all; just his facial expressions and body language conveys so much. There's a moment during the film's climax in which it appears that everyone has betrayed Harry. The look of utter devastation on his face was just amazing. Cooper made you believe what Harry was experiencing was real in every scene.
Absorbing Film But Falls Short Of Full Potential
Sachs helms the film with a sure hand and is able to get the best out of his actors. However, he sometimes is too methodical and deliberate and could have paced the film a with a little more vigor and punch. If he had, he might have had a truly great film on his hands. Nonetheless, he accomplishes what he set out to do and that is to make an entertaining and compelling film that holds the viewer's attention throughout.
Married Life at Amazon