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We Don't Live Here Anymore (2004)

  Directed by: John Curran
Written by: Andre Dubus, Larry Gross
Starring: Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Mark Ruffalo, Naomi Watts
Links: We Don't Live Here Anymore on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 6.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Odd... everyone seemed to stay in their houses" - a review by em_fiction

We Don't Live Here Anymore is a film about relationships. Nothing else. How they work, how they don't. We meet two married couples: Jack (Mark Ruffalo) and Terry (Laura Dern) are one, Hank (Peter Krause) and Edith (Naomi Watts) the other. Neither couple are very happy. None of the four seem to be content with their marriages at all. Part of the problem could be that Jack and Edith are having an affair, leaving Terry and Hank to ponder their own opportunities. Another problem could be that Jack and Terry are way too expressive with one another, whereas Hank and Edith aren't expressive enough. Whatever the problem may be, there definitely is a problem.

This was a film I was really looking forward to. Not because of the plot. Not because of the Australian director, John Curran, who made Praise (1998), which I haven't seen but is supposedly quite good. Not even because there was a remote chance of seeing Naomi Watts naked. I was looking forward to seeing four extraordinary leads in action. I've been able to develop a fondness for each of the actors: Mark Ruffalo from numerous films, in particular, My Life Without Me (2003); Laura Dern from her David Lynch films, and maybe Jurassic Park (1993); Naomi Watts, see Mulholland Dr. (2001); and Peter Krause aka Nate Fisher from the wonderful Six Feet Under. Yet somehow, somehow it still managed to disappoint. I really thought that the strength of these four actors could save it but, dammit, I was wrong.

Don't get me wrong, it was an okay film. A decent one, even. It starts off cutting directly into the most hectic moment of these people's lives. It doesn't show us how any of these characters got into their predicaments; we're taken straight there. Instead, the film seems more focused on the characters resolving these predicaments, or at least them trying to. It's difficult to sympathise with any of them, since every time they fall into a helpless situation which positions us to feel sorry for them, they immediately do something stupid to fuck it all up. But maybe that was the intention: to show that these people are not entirely helpless, and that they put themselves into these situations. Or maybe not.

See, this is the problem I had with this film. It didn't bloody go anywhere. It was really frustrating. The film gets to a point where it no longer knows where it's going, or rather, where it wants to go. What's meant to happen next is left very blurry. It could be argued that the ambiguity was part of the film's deliberate overall ‘confusion’. I don't mean that the film was confusing — it was very accessible — what was confusing were the reasons for it. Why? Seriously, perhaps I just wasn't in a thinking mood.

Kudos to the four leads, who were superb and a big fat plus for the film. All of them. Ruffalo is not unlike his character in My Life Without Me; Dern gives a believable and highly emotional performance; Krause gives us a character who's more or less a toned down version of Nate Fisher and Watts, by now, I've seen cry way too many times. Comparisons with the other two-tangled-relationships film, Closer (2004), are inevitable, and have also been done ad nauseum. All I'll say is this: this one's less arty and more real, but honestly, I don't prefer either.

I really wanted to like this film. I really did. I guess that's just the risk with high expectations.

P.S. Sorry about reviewing a non-MIFF film during the MIFF season. I'm not yet old enough to go. They suck.

em_fiction gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 23 Jul 2005

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