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We Don't Live Here Anymore (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

ADULTEROUS couples take centre stage in We Don't Live Here Anymore, a well-acted, provocative yet downbeat look at the nature of modern relationships.

John Curran's pensive movie focuses on two couples, as played by Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause and Naomi Watts.

It begins at a party, as stolen glances and drunken flirting tip-off the audience that all is not what it seems in the 'happy' photos adorning the walls.

Ruffalo plays Jack, a literary professor, who remains committed to his wife, Terry (Dern) and daughter, despite disappearing for wild sex with Edith (Watts), the wife of his best friend, Hank (Krause).

Far from being oblivious to the activities of their respective partners, however, both Terry and Hank begin an affair of their own - a decision which threatens to tip the balance in both of the fragile relationships.

Hence, what sets the movie apart from other tales of adultery is the way in which it concentrates on the reactions to the deceptions, rather than the discovery of the deceit itself.

It therefore allows the actors and their emotions to take centre stage, rather than cluttering up the screen with endless sequences of illicit sex.

Yet while the performances remain the compelling reason to see the film, the characters, by the very nature of their activity, remain cold and somewhat distanced.

By about the halfway stage, some viewers may be willing them to 'put up or shut up' in the truest sense, rather than prolonging the agony of all concerned.

Ruffalo, in particular, is torn between his feelings of desire and responsibility, masterfully depicting the torment he must feel, yet his weakness can appear frustrating.

While Krause's persistent womaniser deserves his come-uppance far sooner than it arrives and seems a little too calculated for his own good.

Both actors give terrific performances but the script allows them little room to generate much sympathy, thereby blunting the film's potential to really toy with viewers' loyalties.

Likewise, Dern and Watts, both of whom excel in depicting the frustration of their predicaments, but who make choices that don't always make sense.

The result is a movie that is likely to leave viewers feeling very uncomfortable, even though the acting provides plenty to savour.

 

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