"We Don't Live Here Anymore"
Directed by John Curran.
Written by Larry Gross ("48 HRS."). Based on short stories by
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Naomi Watts, Peter Curran and Laura Dern.
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 8/29/04
My buddy Yac and I went over to the indie
house downtown to catch the new adultery film "We Don't Live Here
Anymore", and one thing Yac and I absolutely agreed on when all was
said and done:
Laura Dern looks like hellllllll in
Mark Ruffalo stars as Jack, a professor at
the local community college in Somewhere, Washington that is
unhappily married to Terry (Dern), has two kids that he seems only
partially willing to put up with and...he's cheating on Terry with
his best friend's wife Edith (Naomi Watts). Jack's friend,
Hank (Peter Krause), seems to love his wife, but through
philosophies that make sense mostly to himself, Hank likes to, ahem,
"sample the goods" outside of his marriage as well. He has a
daughter that he seems to love to death...almost as much as he loves
the company of Terry.
So, it's an "everybody sleeps with
everybody" movie, and director John Curran is effective in creating
a fairly depressing atmosphere for anyone who has ever worried that
their partner might really be cheating on them. It's sad
watching Jack and Terry give a half-assed attempt to working on
their marital problems; it's sad watching their two kids trying to
cope with something they don't really understand. The
characters--Ruffalo's Jack in particular--are just bastards save for
Terry, and their bastardness wears on you as the film rolls along.
Personally, I wondered how many of my friends' relationships had
shades of what these characters were going through, or how many of
the people I know regularly cheat on their partners...the home life
in situations like these are profiled well in "We Don't Live Here
Anymore", at least as well as I can imagine, since I have never been
through something like it myself.
The flip side of this, as a movie anyway, is
that the originality here is pretty much at zero. The
performances are okay; I had higher expectations for Watts, who
seems to really be "acting" at times, as opposed to playing a
living, breathing personality; her line readings in a couple of
scenes just seemed blank, given the situation she was playing out.
Krause, too, seems very, very average given how much I had heard
about his television work...some of that is his character's
matter-of-fact delivery, which I guess isn't really his fault.
Ruffalo's character is the worst of the lot, here, in terms of evil,
and his performance is fairly similar to his mind-games-driven
character in "In
the Cut", but his hypocritical nature in this film didn't make
much sense to me and provided a couple of what-I-would-imagine-are
unintentional laughs at key moments in the film. The best
thing about "We Don't Live Here Anymore" is Laura Dern, in part
because her performance is so strong but in part because she looks
so damned awful.
I was telling Yac this after the flick, but
Dern looks so awful that it almost makes sense that Jack would cheat
on his wife of however many years because of how great she must have
looked ten years ago and how bad she looks now. Seriously, in
a scene where Jack is talking to himself about how he should at
least consider making love to his wife to keep up the facade of a
happy marriage, you can see where he would decide against it when he
sees Terry coming on to him and she just looks nasty! For me,
having been a fan of Dern from her hotter days in "Wild at Heart"
(the David Lynch flick with Nic Cage) and "Rambling Rose", time has
not been kind to Dern but I have generally still thought of her as
attractive...not in this flick! The weird thing is that I
don't think the makeup department did anything to Dern ala Charlize
Theron in "Monster";
I think that Curran just decided that to be effective, Dern had to
look more normal, so maybe a lack of makeup and a generally unkempt
hairstyle made her look more down-to-earth and very much the
inferior to Watts' Edith. Whatever, it works, and I think it
also makes you feel even worse for what is happening to Dern's
character as you sympathize with not only her unhappy situation but
the fact that the ego bruise for a cheated-on spouse must be huge.
In the end, "We Don't Live Here Any More"
was effective but as I write this review two days after seeing the
film, it doesn't create the kind of lasting effect that better
adulterously-plotted films leave on the heart and soul. Still,
the questions films like this raise are always entertaining to watch
played out, even for something this depressing.
Comments? Drop me a line at
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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