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"Married Life"

Directed by Ira Sachs.
Written by Ira Sachs and Oren Moverman.  Based on the novel "Five Roundabouts to Heaven" by John Bingham.
Starring Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  3/17/08


I'm starting to get warmed up again now that the movies in theaters look a little better selection-wise; tonight, there was a freebie downtown for the new marriage dramedy "Married Life", so the lovely Meg and I took it in and we were mostly pleased with the results.

In the late 1940s, our story gives us a fairly interesting setup: two best friends--a career bachelor (Pierce Brosnan) and a long-time married man (Chris Cooper)--eventually come to be interested in the same woman (Rachel McAdams).  The married guy is interested because life with his wife (Patricia Clarkson) is essentially tied to sex, not romance, and he wants out; the bachelor sees the potential in this younger woman for both good times now and a partner for life, even at the expense of his friend's happiness.  As if this wasn't enough, the married guy has decided that he doesn't have the heart to divorce his wife and walk, he has to KILL HER.

And, this is supposed to be a comedy!

We have great actors on hand and they do not disappoint; the script based on a novel, at least through the first half of the film, is fresh, creative and generally amusing for a marriage comedy-drama and I was liking things.  The setting, the look of the film, the jazz-inspired score, and all of those great three-piece suits make "Married Life" come alive as an invigorating movie experience on a smaller budget.

But, I thought the film waned a bit as it wishy-washed between true black comedy and happy-ending bliss.  I was still interested to see it through, but it felt like it got lost within itself; do we want to see the wife die, or do we want to see the bachelor end up with the young woman, or how about with the married guy's wife?  Lots of questions, and the resolution comes out where I thought it would (and, where I think YOU will think it would, too), which was slightly disappointing given how "Married Life" starts off.  And, as I was watching, it kind of hit me that Brosnan has been good in spots outside of his Bond work ("The Matador" is a great movie), but he plays another version of the suave, debonair type that produces the occasional yawn, even if you want to admit that the guy was born to play smooth, well-dressed rich guys.  And, as everyone who knows my taste in movies knows, I don't like narrators, and "Married Life" has got one.  Bleh.

A solid freebie, though, and something that does make for great date movie fare.  Just don't go if you, you know, recently cheated on your spouse or get generally uncomfortable around those kinds of situations.  You know.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09