We Don’t Live Here Anymore (8/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
Based on two short
stories by Andre Dubus, this examines infidelity from male and female
points of view. Jack Linden (Mark Ruffalo) and his wife Terry (Laura
Dern) are best friends with Hank Evans (Peter Krause) and his wife Edith
(Naomi Watts.. If one line can sum up a story, it’s when Edith tells
Jack, “Even adultery has a morality to it.”
As the film starts,
Jack is involved in a torrid, clandestine affair with Edith. Terry is
still hopelessly in love with Jack, but she is apparently a slob.
She’s a good mother to their two children, but the house is a mess.
Jack is insufferably cruel to Terry. In fact, Jack comes across as one
of the more hateful characters in recent movies. He’s cheating on his
wife but, when she tells him that Hank made a move on her, he constantly
puts her on the defensive, especially when she pleads for his love.
Jack’s cruel, hypocritical irrationality towards Terry reminded me of
Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966).
On the other side, Hank doesn’t seem to mind whatever Edith wants to
Terry and Edith are
best friends but emotional opposites. While Terry is slovenly when it
comes to housekeeping, Edith is perfection. What they have in common is
that both seem to be ignored by their husbands, a fact that drives each
into the arms of their best friend’s husband.
Hank and Jack are
also best friends, both teachers at a small New England college. Hank is
a writer suffering from writer’s block. Hank and Edith’s daughter,
Sharon (Jennifer Bishop), is an unsmiling delight.
One thing that
detracts from the film for me was Naomi Watts’ inability to cry tears.
This seems to be epidemic among Hollywood actors, led by Sean Penn, who
don’t have this skill. If I’m a director and I want an actor to cry,
that’s one of the things I test for. If the actor can’t do it, I
either dump the scene or get another actor. Alternatively, there should
be some tricks they can use to create tears. If they can make Spiderman
fly, why can’t they get Sean Penn and Naomi Watts to cry? It ruins the
scene, if not the movie, to see someone moan and wail, as Watts does
here, with dry eyes.
Another absurdity of
this film, and it is once again the fault of the director (John Curran),
occurs whenever Jack and Hank jog, which they do regularly. The only
problem is that they aren’t jogging, they’re sprinting. The longest
an Olympic class athlete can sprint is the 400-meter race. Even when
competing in the 800 meters (a half mile, roughly) the runners pace
themselves and only run full out the
last 100-150 meters. But every time we see Hank and Jack “jogging,”
they’re running hell-bent for election.
is not for children as there are some graphic depictions of sex,
although no nudity. Regardless, this is a good, tight script (Larry
Gross) telling an involving story that’s certainly relevant to our
July 24, 2004