Married Life (review)

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Ira Sachs’ last film, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Forty Shades of Blue, was a tough, uncompromising portrait of passion and pain. Would that his followup, based on the John Bingham novel Five Roundabouts to Heaven, were as powerful. It’s obvious that Sachs is attempting to replicate the subtle depth and uncomfortable intimacy of that prior film, with his tale of a married couple — Harry (Chris Cooper: The Kingdom) and Pat (Patricia Clarkson: Lars and the Real Girl) — who wildly misunderstand each other despite surface appearances, and their friend, Richard (Pierce Brosnan: Seraphim Falls), whose amity takes a dark turn when he meets Harry’s new girlfriend, Kay (Rachel McAdams: The Family Stone), and decides he wants her for himself. It’s fun, at first, to let yourself sink into the lush Hitchcockian atmosphere that looks as if its going to blend postwar melodrama — the year is 1949 — with the kind of murderous suspense that always feels richer when it’s people who genuinely care about one another going for their loved ones’ throats, but the deeper Sachs takes us into their strange neuroses, the less intriguing everyone turns out to be, and in the end, it all just comes to an unceremonious stop. The performances from this extraordinary cast are as sumptuous as you’d expect, but they disappear into a wisp of insignificance.

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