It's easy to understand why this dark and unrelenting psychological drama never made it into movie theaters, which seem to welcome fewer and fewer films with real bite onto their screens. Though not as gloomy as his breakthrough film, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, John McNaughton's look at a suburban marriage gone awry in the worst ways doesn't hold back. Give credit to Ashley Judd, a long way from playing victimized women in much more formulaic films, for letting out all the stops in her portrayal of Pam, the picture of amorality. Normal Life follows many of the conventions of film noir, with an honest man allowing himself to be sucked into a life of crime by a no-good woman, but it is also deliberately less polished than the best films of that genre. It has the immediacy of a documentary, and even if it weren't based on a true story, Normal Life feels like a feature article you'd read in the Sunday edition of your local paper under the headline "Local Cop Gone Bad."
by Tom Wiener review