Projections - Movie Reviews

The Secret Lives of Dentists

A drama with dark comedy laced throughout, Alan Rudolph's The Secret Lives of Dentists may feel pretentious at times, but it stays with you like novocaine.

Campbell Scott and Hope Davis etch a portrait of a suburban marriage with much precision as he is David and she Dana Hurst, both D.D.S.'s.  The last year has seen both unsung performers rising in their profession, with Scott in Roger Dodger and Davis in About Schmidt.  Here Rudolph finds the galvanic qualities in both through a sharp, if somewhat slight script from Craig Lucas with the antecedent being Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief.

The key early scene has David trying to meet Dana, the mother of their three kids, backstage in order to give her something she neglected to bring with her.  She's in a local theater group working on an opera.  Rudolph's camera peers at her through a door not opened all the way and at a man who is facing her.  Dana seems very fixated with him and that gets to her husband in ways that help spark this thoughtful, interpretative film.

One wonders about Dana and if she is more passionate when David isn't with her.  Denis Leary appears as a patient that David has unconscious sessions with.  Rudolph and Lucas have laid out the nature of family life in so many ways that ring true, especially when the intestinal flu hits the Hursts.  The Secret Lives of Dentists is taut and wry throughout all the pain and eeriness with Scott and Davis there to provide the afterglow as bliss is numbed.

The Secret Lives of Dentists

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