Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


‘Married Life’ fun matrimony of suspense, wit

Despite the recent influx of Hollywood-back indie films,
there is still nothing better than stumbling upon a diamond in the rough. One
such gem is the suspenseful, yet disarmingly witty, “Married Life.”

In this drama/dark comedy, award-winning independent film
director Ira Sachs (“Forty Shades of Blue”) knowledgably brings
together the complex situations of four everyday people and the simple setting
of 1940s America in order to deliver this cunning tale about the dangers of

While the film’s lack in developmental substance and
unfinished feel give the sensation of a short film trying to fit into a
full-length feature mold, the star-studded cast is able to shine with what they
are given.


“Married Life,” which is based on John Bingham’s
novel “Five Roundabouts to Heaven,” is the story of Harry Allen
(Chris Cooper, “The Kingdom”), who after being married for several
years to his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson, “Lars and the Real Girl”)
has begun to fall in love with the vivacious widow Kay (Rachel McAdams,
“The Family Stone”). Afraid that divorcing his wife will cause her
too much despair and humiliation, Harry decides that it would be much better
just to kill her.

The film’s brilliance stems from the way it treats these
serious themes of death and infidelity in a bitingly satirical manner. The
precise timing of the movie’s countless ironic and awkward situations helps
blend humor into an otherwise heartrending film.

Most of this comic relief comes from Harry’s best friend
Richard Langley, who is played with a captivatingly suave demeanor by Pierce
Brosnan (“Seraphim Falls”). In the film, Richard uses his pleasant
charm and womanizing skills in an attempt to steal Kay for himself. Even though
his character is vastly underdeveloped, Brosnan is still able to entertain the
audience by means of his clever quips and dashing persona.

With his subtle allure and compassion, Harry is the perfect
contrast to Richard. The former is driven by his need for a more emotionally
satisfying love and, as a result, is blinded from what is right in front of
him. In a role that dynamically showcases his seasoned talent, Cooper commands
the screen with a performance that is not only compelling but also believable.

Although the film starts off at a meticulous crawl, things
really start to pick up once the cognitive gears start turning in the
character’s minds as they begin formulating their plans to achieve happiness by
building upon the unhappiness of the others. With every dark secret revealed,
the tension builds and the audience is left guessing as to what move these
shady individuals will make next. For a film dealing with lust and adultery,
however, the almost complete absence of a love scene is surprising, especially
with the casting of such prominent sex symbols as McAdams and Brosnan.

In taking his audience to this sleepy Pacific Coast city
just a few years after WWII, Sachs creates an atmosphere that expertly
juxtaposes the energetic subject matter dealt with in the movie. This setting
is only enhanced by the film’s magnificent costume design and infectious music.

With her sleek, platinum blonde hair and lustrous red lips,
McAdams slides flawlessly into the period. She incorporates both thoughtful
grace and vibrant actions to skillfully portray a woman motivated by feminist

In a timeframe reminiscent of the setting of the
Oscar-nominated “Far from Heaven,” Clarkson proves once again her
ability to stand out in the past. With her strong-willed personality, she is a
perfect match for the gentle-mannered Cooper and contributes a dead-on
portrayal of a woman whose thirst for the physical facet of love is met only by
the deep concern she has for her husband’s happiness.

“Married Life” is an intelligent film that makes use
of a clever script and gifted actors to tell an amiably twisted story. Although
it would have significantly helped to have more material worked into the
screenplay, the film is still both an enthralling drama and sharp comedy in its
current form. For this reason, “Married Life” is a film worth
discovering in theaters.


4 stars out of 5

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *