Based on the John Bingham novel Five Roundabout to Heaven, Married Life peels away the sugarcoated veneer of all those cheerful, cookie-cutter mid-20th-century romantic comedies. And it reveals something darker and more disturbing tugging at the more disenchanted heart of America today.
Chris Cooper rattles audience psyches as Harry, an emotionally brittle businessman with an affectionate and obedient suburban wife (Patricia Clarkson) who’s stung by midlife crisis and bewitched by a bad case of puppy love for a dazzling, far-too-young war widow enchantress, played by Rachel McAdams. Pierce Brosnan does his usual cunning, irresistible ladies man thing as deceptive narrator and a possibly not-so-loyal buddy and advisor to the psychologically stressed Harry, who’s contemplating doing away with his wife to spare her the distress of living without him when he abandons her for a more tempting lover.
Married Life’s raw honesty spares none of its characters in brutally exposing their self-serving hypocrisy in the pursuit of selfish pleasures. The ensemble cast chemistry is superb in its nearly suffocating tangle of repressed passions, but the family-values wrap-up of all these messy erotic tensions feels ultimately far too pat and unresolved.
Sony Home Entertainment
2 1/2 stars
DVD Features: Commentary With Director Ira Sachs; Three Alternate Endings with Optional Commentary.