The Unkindest Cut
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 12/31/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Andre Dubus's novella on which this film is based can be read and interpreted a couple of ways: as an "The Ice Storm" like evisceration of 2 lonely, masochistic couples or as an "The Ice Storm" evisceration of 2 lonely masochistic couples whom Dubus shows not only understanding for but also shows that they can be saved, they can be redeemed, there is enough humanity within them to care about.
This film of "We Don't Live here Anymore" tells the story of Jack Linden (Mark Ruffalo, who just gets better and better), who is married to Terry (Laura Dern) and Hank Evans (Peter Krause) who is married to Edith (the luminous Naomi Watts).
All four have lost their way and are having affairs with the other's spouse: they have forgotten how to love and sex is now all they have to experience any kind of feeling. Their pairings are mechanical, if there is any so-called Love, it is fleeting and only of the moment. These are people who have experienced Love and found it to be lacking. They talk a lot, they fight and argue more: but all of it means nothing and seems to only be a means to pass the day without slitting their throats.
Where director Curran gets it right though is how he shows that nothing, none of the arguments leads to any kind of easy resolutions: in fact there is no resolution to any of this at all. Curran presents, I think a very contemporary and ambiguous view of his characters and of life really: it's messy, we sometimes are with the wrong people, Love mostly doesn't last but no matter what, we have options, we have hope."
Scenes from a modern marriage
Luan Gaines | Dana Point, CA USA | 07/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This low-key drama confronts infidelity and marital discontent through the private dramas of two couples. Both Hank (Peter Krause) and Jack (Mark Ruffalo) are teachers at a community college, Hank an aspiring novelist who treats infidelity as a necessary adjunct to his life. The most sophisticated of the four, he embraces the romance of the writer's ancillary angst, women serving as both inspiration and gratification. His wife, Edith (Naomi Watts) is aware of Hank's indiscretions, increasingly bitter and disappointed with her marriage, but unwilling to act.
Edith and Hank are good friends with Jack and Terry (Laura Dern), socializing frequently, a source of titillation for a clandestine affair between Jack and Edith. Edith embarks on the affair partly from spite and partly from devastating loneliness, but Jack is not as cavalier as his fellow adulterer, blindsided by daydreams of his lover and irritated by Terry's obvious flaws. As Jack, Ruffalo is sensitive and thoughtful, playing the formerly faithful husband with subtle grace, sinking into a moral quagmire that renders him unable to stop the affair or leave his wife. This man enjoys the comforts of marriage, children and the routine, almost undone by the risks he is taking to meet Edith.
The jewel of the movie is Laura Dern as Terry, her performance flawless as the confused, wounded wife who senses her husband's betrayal but won't confront him, crippled by her own inadequacies. Dern and Ruffalo move in perfect counterpoint, circling their marriage, challenged in ways they never anticipated. He obsesses over the other woman and adores his children, but there is more emotional depth here than may appear. This is a man who cannot abide his own betrayal. Edith realizes that eventually the affair will be exposed, almost anticipating the ensuing confrontation.
Under the direction of John Curran, the insightful script is riveting in the hands of these actors, the subdued atmosphere belying a tight undercurrent of tension, a sense that something terrible might happen to these people, especially Jack and Terry. The director manipulates this tension to pull the characters back and forth, their interactions emotionally charged, until finally the truth of each marriage is revealed. This movie has been compared to The Ice Storm, but I never made any such connection when watching the film. The Ice Storm is cynical, a study in carelessness, but this film carries the weight of truth, how easily marriage gets side-tracked by tedium, how simple it is to forget the cost of infidelity.
Krause plays an egocentric, insensitive cad, Watts the long-suffering wife driven to her own solutions, but Dern is the heart of the movie, waxing hot and cold, caught up in her own deceptions, bruised by Jack's betrayal, both of them torn between need and responsibility. The couple is faced with the consequences of their actions, where nothing happens in a vacuum and the children pay the price of their parent's self-indulgence. There are no easy answers, no great epiphany, only hard truths and the concessions demanded by modern marriage. Luan Gaines/2005.
An eye opener
Damian Gunn | I am everywhere | 08/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't think I've ever just sat and watched a movie and `got' it quite like this. Maybe it's because every married couple goes through the feelings expressed in this film. Laura Dern, Mark Ruffalo, Naomi Watts & Peter Krause star as two couples whose relationships are rattled by adultery. These two couples have very different relationships yet are looking for exactly the same thing.
Jack (Ruffalo) is a college professor married to Terry (Dern). Terry loves Jack but Jack is falling in love with Edith (Watts) who is married to Hank (Krause) who doesn't love her but is attracted to Terry. Jack and Edith fall into an affair that causes more pain to each of them then to their respective partners. Watching Jack and Edith react to their mates after they've just been with each other, the tears, the looks, the concern in their eyes. Hank in the meantime is looking for someone to cure his boredom with his wife, and Terry may be that woman, and since Jack's guilt is tearing him apart he encourages Terry and Hank's relationship in order to justify is infidelity.
What Jack never banked on was realizing the love he had for his wife and his children. After his wife sleeps with Hank, Jack is panged with regret and heartache as he watches his marriage fall apart, the marriage he felt he was tired of but in actuality it's the only thing he wants and needs.
This movie is a wake up call for all of us who are falling out of love with our relationships, our lives in general and the ones we share it with. It's brilliantly scripted and acted and flows wonderfully, delivering its point beautifully. Watts and Dern are brilliant here and show so much feeling in all their words, in all their actions. Honestly one of the best movie's I've ever seen and one that will stay with me for all time."
Don't Quit In Face of The Miracle
Carol H. Foster | San Diego CA | 02/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My husband I watched this move with rapt attention. We have both been divorced and for both of us, this movie brought back many memories of painful times which we went through with our prior spouses. I have come to understand that in human relationships there are many obstacles and many lessons to be learned; I have experienced the spiritual truth that when everything seems the darkest, the light may be about to dawn; therefore, be aware that what seems the most hopeless, could turn around when you think eveyrhing is lost. That is what I saw happen in the lives of these two couples. Both of the women felt unloved; both of the women knew their husbands' weren't faithful to them. One choose to be silent about it, and just have an affair of her own with her best friend's husband. And the other woman tried to get through to her husband again and again, but got nowhere. Out of frustration, she even having a couple encounters with the other husband, and this didn't affect her husband who seemed simply inhuman in his indifference to his wife. It was only when the affairs came out in the open, when the one husband told his wife he was in love with the other woman, well, only then did he begin to feel anything, as far I could see, anything really deeply human other than just his sexual excitement in being with someone else. The other husband also seemed terribly shallow but when confronted with losing his wife and child in divorce, then he finally agreed to quit cheating on her.
The other man also went to his wife to whom he had been so indifferent, and told her he didn't want to leave, and it wasn't about the children. He was then too sad to continue his affair, and just went back home, hopefully to rebuild his marriage. The miracles to me were the changes that took place with the husband;s, the willingness to start again on a much different more solid basis now. Edith's character appears to have given up because she stoopped down to the same level as her husband. To me she was saying to her husband, I don't like who I became by being married to you. Here, I believe she passed on the miracle. That philandering husband was willing to change now and that was what she needed him to do in order to remain with him, yet she choose to leave. I think this movie is profound, moving and thought-provoking. I loved it, but I do like character studies, I like movies that make you think, that are unusual, that show you how not to behave and that surprise you. I think everyone's acting was great; you really have little respect for anyone other than Laura Dern's character who comes across as the strongest most decent person in the film. She was even going to be a great woman to divorce, just like she was a great albeit imperfect wife to this man. He just couldn't see it until he had to face leaving the marriage because of his own foolish dysfunctional behavior. Love is work and the couple that stayed together, they were going to be one's to reap the benefits of sticking together even when things were at their lowest point. Don't quit before the miracle! This movie illustrate that very important spiritual truth of life and relationships."