Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2006. New Line Cinema, Bona Fide Productions, Standard Film Company. Screenplay by Todd Field, Tom Perrotta, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. Cinematography by Antonio Calvache. Produced by Albert Berger, Todd Field, Ron Yerxa. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by David Gropman. Costume Design by Melissa Economy. Film Editing by Leo Trombetta.
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Todd Field’s sophomore effort, following his Oscar-nominated In The Bedroom: it wants so badly to be a great film that its failure to achieve this is that much harder to accept. Another in the long line of films exploring the seedy underbelly of suburban American life, it stars Kate Winslet as a bookish housewife who accidentally begins an affair with a blankly gorgeous househusband (Patrick Wilson) when they try to piss off the prudish women at the playground by pretending to involved. Their connection to each other, inexplicable and immediate, gives them both a release from their monotonous lives with their spouses, she with a husband (Gregg Edelman) who prefers internet porn to his wife, and he with a perfectly beautiful documentary filmmaker (Jennifer Connelly) with whom he cannot connect. Running alongside these two characters is a plot involving a recently released sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) whose return to the neighbourhood sparks the ire of a recently laid-off police officer (Noah Emmerich) who can’t stop harassing him. The acting is wonderful, particularly the firebombs of intensity coming from Winslet, but the screenplay is all over the place and it’s nothing we haven’t seen before: people are more than their stereotypes and life is more complex than white picket fences and golden retrievers. Yawn. There’s also some very annoying narration that tries to justify a literature-on-screen experience, further expounded by the painfully obvious intertextuality of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. At least there’s lots of gratuitous nudity, with Botticelli babe Winslet and Girl Guide Cookie in human form Wilson giving us reasons to stay home in the rain, but otherwise it’s just not as interesting as it’s cracked up to be.
Academy Award Nominations: Best Actress (Kate Winslet); Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley); Best Adapted Screenplay
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Actress-Drama (Kate Winslet); Best Screenplay
Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations: Best Actress (Kate Winslet); Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2006