Film review: 'Married Life' smart, old-fashioned

Published: Friday, March 28 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

MARRIED LIFE — *** — Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson; rated PG-13 (vulgarity, brief sex, drugs, mild profanity)

"Married Life" has such a good cast that the script could have been terrible and it still would have been watchable.

Fortunately, that's not the case. This darkly comic dramatic thriller, which is set just after World War II, is more than merely watchable. It's very smart and is old-fashioned in several respects.

In fact, if not for some brief sexual material the film easily could have been rated PG.

Of course, it is dialogue and plot-heavy, which does mean some may find it to be a little talky and slow. And the characters aren't exactly the nicest and most relatable of people. But it's done very well.

Pierce Brosnan narrates and stars as Richard Langley, the bachelor best friend of successful businessman Harry Allen (Chris Cooper).

Richard believes that Harry is happily married to his longtime sweetheart, Pat (Patricia Clarkson). However, during a business lunch, his friend reveals that he's carrying on an affair with pretty war widow named Kay (Rachel McAdams).

Thus begins a series of double-crosses and other duplicitous actions, as Harry tries to find a way to end his marriage and as the covetous Richard tries seduce his best friend's mistress.

Co-screenwriter/director Ira Sachs ("Forty Shades of Blue") has clearly studied Alfred Hitchcock's mid-period domestic thrillers, and this has the same sort of wry tone.

Sachs' adaptation of John Bingham's well-regarded novel "Five Roundabouts to Heaven" runs into a little trouble when it tries to get more serious, though it's hard to go completely wrong with this cast.

Brosnan is pitch-perfect as the biggest cad of the piece, while character actor Cooper's conniving husband character is a little more sympathetic than you might expect.

Clarkson's multilayered performance adds depth to her somewhat underwritten housewife. And McAdams is good as the seemingly innocent, bleached-blond object of desire as well.

"Married Life" is rated PG-13 for some suggestive language, a brief sex scene, drug content (including misuse of pharmaceuticals) and scattered mild profanity (mostly religiously based). Running time: 91 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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