By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures Classics.
Married Life is one of those little movies that really only exists on the radar because big names were in it. It was probably a chance for each of the actors to stretch, or support a more intimate story, but I certainly wouldn't have paid attention if it were just some little indie. And rightfully so, because it doesn't have much to offer.
Movie Review: Married Life
Richard Langley (Pierce Brosnan) narrates the story of his friend Harry Allen (Chris Cooper), seemingly happily married until he introduces Dick to his mistress, Kay (Rachel McAdams). Ricky becomes smitten with Kay himself and plans his own seduction, while Harry schemes to murder his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson) so he can avoid hurting her feelings.
So it's adultery and murder. Who cares? What else is new? Just get on with it. It's kind of like Unfaithful light. It's got the issues, but not the balls. Everything is obvious but just prolonging the story (stretching it to barely 90 minutes). Harry's little mistakes are so stupid, it's just waiting, waiting, waiting. You are discovering elements, but they're banal elements.
It's kind of got the tragic structure too, with inevitable hurt all around, but there's none of that pity and fear that Aristotle demanded. You've got a cheating bore and his smug bitch of a ball and chain. She's got misinformed intentions but that only makes her worse. And the other characters are just there to facilitate the plot.
Then they have to tell us how to feel. Brosnan's narration continues to assert, "Here's how to interpret these events." See, Unfaithful without the balls.
The costumes are very uneven too. McAdams looks like a total '50s vamp and Cooper is tweed enough. Brosnan is totally modern and Clarkson's character is so forward thinking, it even looks like her posture is ahead of its time.
So was it really worth it? Did Brosnan really need a vehicle to be a slightly less likable lover? Did Cooper really need to show he could be morally conflicted? Did Clarkson really need to show she could be sassy? Did McAdams really need to play dress-up? Well, at least seeing her in high fashion made it a little worthwhile.