Married Life (Sony, 2007) D: Ira Sachs, w/ Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper. Rating: N; DVD package: NN
Take an electric guitar and hit a note on the high E string; B works well. Now bend it, raising the pitch, and at the same time depress the whammy bar, lowering the pitch. Co-ordinate this perfectly and you not only stay on the original pitch, but you also leach every trace of character from it. It makes a great entry in the World's Most Boring Note competition.
Writer-director Ira Sachs has done something similar with Married Life. He ramps up the pitch for comedy and melodrama with cute opening credits and Pierce Brosnan's slightly arch voice-over, then depresses anything exaggerated in the action, dialogue and performances in the interest of naturalism. The result is an emotionally flat drama in which nothing much happens, and happens slowly, while the cast struggles to give naturalistic readings to highly unnatural dialogue.
As Harry Allen, the middle-aged man who decides to murder his loving wife (Patricia Clarkson) because he's fallen for beautiful young widow Kay Nesbitt (Rachel McAdams), Chris Cooper is woefully miscast. With his suspicious little eyes and thin-lipped perpetual frown, he reads as mean-spirited and small-minded, exactly the sort who should be the villain in melodrama or the cuckold in comedy, and not at all believable as a man loved by two women.
Sachs thinks Cooper is perfect casting. He also thinks his movie is funny and suspenseful. He's good at explaining his choices and influences in his commentary. Pity the movie doesn't hold up.
EXTRAS Director commentary, alternate endings. Widescreen.