Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA/Canada, 2004. Front Street Pictures, Front Street Productions, Renaissance Films. Screenplay by Larry Gross, based on the short stories We Don’t Live Here Anymore and Adultery by Andre Dubus. Cinematography by Maryse Alberti. Produced by Jonas Goodman, Harvey Kahn, Naomi Watts. Music by Michael Convertino. Production Design by Tony Devenyi. Costume Design by Katia Stano. Film Editing by Alexandre de Franceschi.
Yeah, but we don’t care. This adaptation of two Andre Dubus novellas (originally published in 1984, and it shows) falls short of the recent spew of film transfers of his works, including the acclaimed House Of Sand And Fog and the overrated In The Bedroom. Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern star as a struggling married couple, him a professor and she a housewife, who are nearly torn apart by his affair with her best friend (Naomi Watts) and Dern’s subsequent revenge with Ruffalo’s best friend (Peter Krause, also a professor), who is also Watts’s husband. The complexity with which these adulterous relationships are shown is thorough, detailed and more realistic than anything you’ve seen in a very long time (Fatal Attraction anyone?), but that doesn’t actually make it interesting. Besides, could there possibly be a more tired movie cliche than the oversexed, philandering professor who’s pretending to write a novel between affairs? The characters are mostly flat and unlikable, with Dern being the only one to shine through some inhuman qualities (stop sleeping with your friend and saying your husband made you do it! That’s so 1980s passive aggressive!) and give a rich performance that is easily the film’s best. Director John Curran keeps the story tightly focused on its four leads, going for a claustrophobic “resonance” that works at times but mostly just resonates a low hum that never registers.