MARRIED LIFE Directed by Ira Sachs. 90 minutes. Opens Friday (March 21). Rating: NNN
Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson are two of America’s most talented character actors; Pierce Brosnan and Rachel McAdams have proven themselves consistently smarter than your average movie stars.
Seeing all four of them square off in the new film by the director of the powerhouse drama Forty Shades Of Blue should result in a cracking good time.
But I still don’t know what Ira Sachs is trying to say in Married Life, which begins as a Sirkian melodrama about a crumbling marriage before settling into a quasi-Hitchcockian thriller, yet never quite clicks into gear as either one.
It’s 1949, and executive Harry Allen (Cooper) is juggling the demands of his wife, Pat (Clarkson), and his mistress, Kay (McAdams). Exhausted by his double life, he decides to poison Pat to spare her the pain of a divorce.
As the bachelor pal enlisted as a beard for Kay, Brosnan seems to glide elegantly above the moral quagmire that’s ensnared his friend – right up until he proves himself as self-interested as everyone else, both as an agent within the story and as our narrator.
It’s all exquisitely produced and engagingly performed, but without an animating spark it’s never anything more than an exercise in period recreation – and, unfortunately, one that’s already been upstaged by the TV series Mad Men.