Projections - Movie Reviews

We Don't Live Here Anymore

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Naomi Watts, Sam Charles, Haili Page

We Don’t Live Here Anymore may be thought of as today’s Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice. Some young married couples may connect with the plight of director John Curran’s characters: Edith, Jack, Terry and Hank. It may be too loquacious and impassioned too much for its own good, but its lasting effects come from some sharp characterizations.

The ambitious, prize-winning screenplay by Larry Gross, whose work goes back to Streets of Fire and 48 Hours, ambitiously adapts two short stories by the late Andre Dubus (In The Bedroom). Marital discord is the milieu of two couples who engage in mutual adultery, as an opening party scene makes it a little difficult to know who’s with who.

A trip for some beer will eventually find Edith (Naomi Watts) sneaking out for sex with the scruffy, handsome Jack (Mark Ruffalo of Collateral) in the woods. It turns out that Edith’s husband, Hank (Peter Krause of HBO’s “Six Feet Under) is Jack’s best friend and jogging partner, though it seems like they do more sprinting than jogging.

Laura Dern, not visible in film recently, has a certain gaunt, steely presence about her as Terry, who is close to Edith and Jack’s wife. Jack isn’t going out of his way to keep his illicit ways from being noticed, so Terry retaliates by having a physical relationship with the philandering Hank.

With Jack and Hank creative writing partners in an unspecified Northeast campus, probably somewhere in New England, Curran’s film seems influenced by Edward Albee’s Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf. The dialogue has its blazing moments akin, but not nearly as compelling as lines from Elizabeth Taylor’s troubled Martha. Though the literary source maybe gets to be arch in the translation, this foursome generate some scathingly funny, erotic tension.

Krause breaks into his first film role with vulnerability and tenacity and Ruffalo layers his unlikeable Jack admirably in a way that Neil LaBute would take notice. And Dern brings some heart to a frazzled, messed up woman, while Watts powers through Edith’s veneer with undeterred sensuality lined with intellect.

We Don’t Live Here Anymore may tie up its loose ends too neatly in episodic fashion, Curran and Gross put some bite into betrayal between good friends while the husbands actually spend time with the kids.

We Don't Live Here Anymore

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