Very often films which are defiant of genre categorisation can easily come across as messy and imprecise, but in Ira Sachs’ “Married Life,” he blends dark comedy, suspense and stylish melodrama into a contemporary throwback, conceptualised from a male perspective, to the film noir facet of the glamour of the 40’s in a wholesome package that keeps the viewer on their toes every step of the way. Audiences will either revel in the manner in which the film strays from a singular course or they will find annoyance in the seemingly directionless film, with an insubordinate mixture of tones and principles, in a way that very much resembles reality. What the film does not manage to do is balance its daring concept will an entirely fulfilling outcome, and perhaps “Married Life” is too modest for its own good.
Pitch-perfecting casting is the films biggest asset. Chris Cooper was born to play roles of men who are emotionally suppressed and end up living quiet lives of aching desperation. He has done it repeatedly, and he gets better every time. His character has continuously stuffed all his anger and torment neatly under his suave suits and buttoned them up as best as he could. However, when the monumental weight of all his internal repression gets the better of him, what’s a man to do? Especially a respectable, considerate and an obviously damaged man that we have no choice but to sympathise with him. Just as good as Cooper is, and this came as a surprise to me, Brosman matches him. His representation of a man with questionable morals is interesting because his devil-may-care attitude is clearly a mask with which he covers his vulnerability, a role which Cary Grant would have had a blast with. Clarkson and McAdams are always effervescent no matter how undefined and underdeveloped their roles may be, and where Clarkson is already an established screen presence, the film will no doubt mark a high point in McAdams career, her transition into darker, more dramatic, and ultimately more challenging material begins in this film. In addition, it suits her to no end, the same can be said for her bottle-blonde do – she is almost unrecognizable, but her smile can melt a man, which makes the fact that she gets two well-poised men going out of their minds just to be with her, entirely believable.
The true power of “Married Life” comes from its impact on the viewer when they leave the cinema and get home, and have no choice but to begin to question their relationships in their own lives. Do we really know what out better halves are thinking and feeling all the time? Of course not, and it is the utter mysteriousness of the affair that makes love, and seeing this film, worth it.
2.03GB | 1 h 30 min | 1024×552 | mkv