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Good Cast, Wasted
BY MOLLY TEMPLETON
MARRIED LIFE: Directed by Ira Sachs. Written by Sachs and Oren Moverman. Based on Five Roundabouts to Heaven by John Bingham. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson and Rachel McAdams. Sony Pictures Classics, 2008. PG13. 90 minutes.
This pretty but bland film rests solely on the shoulders of its stars, who stride through this late-’40s-set semi-funny melodrama gamely enough but can’t bring to life the sliver of a script, which hinges entirely on the notion that you can’t — gasp! — know exactly what goes on in the head of the person you share a bed with. Harry (Chris Cooper) is sure that a divorce would destroy his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson), but he’s in love with his young mistress, Kay (Rachel McAdams). He introduces Kay to his bachelor friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan, suave as ever), which later must seem like a really bad idea — almost as bad as Harry’s idea to kill Pat to spare her the agony of a divorce. What catches your attention in this film is not the machinations of Harry and Richard, both in pursuit of the same young woman, or any affection for the thin characters, but the details: McAdams’ vampy red lipstick and platinum hair, with all its associations; the interesting lack of children; hey, that’s Faramir from The Lord of the Rings! It’s hard, looking at the period dress, the furniture, the gorgeous old cars, not to think of Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven, and the comparison doesn’t do Married Life any favors.
Married Life opens Friday, April 11, at the Bijou.