Ugh. I wasn’t that far removed from the repetitive earaches of We Don’t Live Here Anymore when I ventured into another film about a disintegrating marriage. But hey, it’s based on a play by Wallace Shawn. He’s a funny guy. Maybe he’s got something to say about the unloving confines of marital dis-bliss. I’m prepared for the cinematic staginess and I’ve got Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick to guide me through it. Surely it can’t be as one-note or uninteresting as that previous experience. To even harbor such a thought would be…wait for it…inconceivable! Sadly, while Marie and Bruce is not quite as grueling as the aformentioned film, it's still pretty interminable to sit through.Marie and Bruce is a day in the life of polar opposites trying to get away from each other yet still remain together. Imagine Moore in Magnolia and Broderick in Election and then accentuate the two in their wildly aggressive and passive directions. Both are unemployed. Bruce is a writer who has just found his classic typewriter out the window care of Marie, whose job is the jokester’s idea of what a wife does: nag and walk around barefoot.
Marie has had it with Bruce. We can’t figure out why since he’s such a pleasant, amiable guy who always calls his wife “darling”. Then we figure it out. He’s nothing but an amiable guy who says “darling” ad nauseum and seems to show less emotion than an alien pod. Marie’s morning demeanor would send sailors away from the port but she can’t seem to get rid of Bruce despite announcing her intentions to leave him.
We follow their misery from morning-to-night and try to keep ourselves awake while they both daydream. She wanders the streets with the guide of a stranded Golden Lab and fantasizes about a perfect life and fake CGI water that symbolizes suffocation, washing away of sins, take your pick. Bruce is so pathetic he rents a hotel room to masturbate. Luckily there’s a blonde across the way who likes to undress in front of her window. If he spent more time in there he’d probably see Lars Thorwald and the Ugly Naked Guy from Friends. Yeah, you’ll need your imagination a few times during this film.
The two of them eventually will end up at a dinner party where a spark in Bruce’s dialogue ignites the audience into what a satirical copulation this all could have been instead of such a languid minute-by-minute grind of unhappiness in motion. Broderick (with his natural comic timing) so matter-of-factly calls his wife a cunt that for a second we wonder if it’s such a taboo labeling after all. Identifying their problems like a fact-checker, Bruce suggests that Marie needs to “fuck him more” and it’s the one sign of life that he provides for himself and the entire movie.24 hours down to 90 minutes shouldn’t feel as long as it does with Marie and Bruce. I don’t know if we learn anything about marriage during the film or if we can truly laugh at its everyday, “little-things” complexity. These are wearisome people to spend time with and I’m not invited to enough New York dinner parties to chuckle or sneer at their pretentiousness or lack thereof. Personally, I’d rather just book another dinner with Andre then spend another day with Marie and Bruce.