Married Life (2008)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Period Film, Marriage Drama  |   Release Date - Mar 7, 2008 (USA)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Michael Buening

The well acted but slight Married Life appears to be an excuse for lousy marriage jokes. Harry (Chris Cooper) tries poisoning sex-hungry Pat (Patricia Clarkson) in order to be free to marry his girlfriend, Kay (Rachel McAdams). Take his wife, please! The plot is as dull and unconvincing as it sounds. It's 1949 thoroughly -- from the Plymouths, Doris Day songs, and McAdams' Kim Novak platinum helmet to the film noir and domestic drama story elements threaded through the script. Director Ira Sachs' previous Forty Shades of Blue was a finely wrought character study. Married Life excels at the same, but is overlaid with a hokey story and strident attention to period artifice that feels belabored. Pierce Brosnan tries to sort this stylistic puzzle, narrating the story while playing Harry's playboy friend Richard. He navigates his scenes with a breezy confidence the others lack, as if he alone sees the levers of the narrative and knows which ones to pull. Given the ending, it's not clear if the film was supposed to be a nasty joke or a sweet one. Richard wonders if we build our happiness on the misery of others, and the film hints that the ideal married couple is as self-centered as any scheming bachelor. Married Life was featured in the 45th New York Film Festival and the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival.