(No longer in theaters)
Mar 7, 2008
In Married Life, Ira Sachs aims a bit lower than Gordon Green ("Snow Angels") but obliterates his target: The funny, the scary, the campy, the sad—they’re all splendidly of a piece. The movie is a goof on Hitchcock and Sirk—a period (late forties) soap opera with nasty sexual undertones and the omnipresent threat of murder. The narrator, a Lord of Misrule, is Pierce Brosnan, who can play a too-handsome cad and convincingly parody one—everything rolls off him. But his best friend, the protagonist, is played by Chris Cooper, off whom nothing rolls: Sour, saggy, quivering with repressed longing, always a step away from implosion, Cooper straddles the comedy-melodrama border and keeps you both giggly and tense. The premise of Married Life is that he wants to spare his wife (Patricia Clarkson) the agony he knows she’ll feel when he leaves her for a young, blonde war widow (Rachel McAdams)—which means doing the humane thing and killing her. The joke is that he doesn’t have a clue what’s really in her head—or in the heads of his mistress and best friend: His scary switchback emotional roller-coaster ride has nothing to do with the real world. The movie is written from a male perspective—the women are projections—and wouldn’t work without the gorgeous Clarkson, neurasthenic one instant and the next the very image of sensual feline self-containment.