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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.27%
Worth A Look: 25.45%
Just Average29.09%
Pretty Crappy: 23.64%
Sucks: 14.55%

7 reviews, 13 user ratings

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We Don't Live Here Anymore
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by Elaine Perrone

"And the Oscar goes to...Laura Dern."
4 stars

To all appearances, Edith and Hank Evans (Naomi Watts, Peter Krause) are living the American Dream. They have a lovely home in the suburbs and attend their daughter's dancing recitals together. He is writing a novel and is about to have a poem published in The New Yorker. Behind closed doors is a different picture: When they are alone together, they don't find much to talk about. Their home is not so much immaculate as sterile. He is a serial philanderer who has just broken off an affair with a French woman and who, when he is not hitting on his best friend's wife, ogles the many beautiful, long-haired coeds who flock to his creative writing classes.

Their best friends Terry and Jack Linden (Laura Dern, Mark Ruffalo) live a decidedly lower-class lifestyle. Their much humbler home is cluttered and dirty, except when Terry goes into three-day manic bouts of cleaning. Their two children are rumpled, kept awake at night by their parents' hollering at each other. She drinks a bit too much, and in the morning, in the throes of a wicked hangover and in her sock feet, steps in a stray turd the cat has flipped out of its litter box. Their credit cards are maxed out, and it is obvious they are barely getting by on Jack's salary as a teacher of literature at the local college. Jack constantly picks away at Terry, blaming her for everything that is wrong with their lives. She is the kind of mother who forgets to change the sheets when their son wets the bed; he is the kind of passive-aggressive asshole who throws it up in her face, it never occurring to him that he might have stripped the bedding himself. When he does make breakfast for the kids, it's pancakes drenched in chocolate syrup and Kool-Whip.

When Edith and Hank make love, she lies facedown and he enters her from behind, never making eye contact with each other. Terry and Jack's lovemaking is boisterous and sweaty, with her crying out for him to "Look at me!"

Edith and Jack are also involved in a passionate affair, a situation over which Jack feels enormously conflicted because he still loves his wife and children. For Edith, who has long been emotionally estranged from her horn dog of a husband, there is no such conflict. She seems to have no intention of leaving her upper-class lifestyle but loves Jack and loves the naughtiness of what they are doing, pondering only vaguely, "I wonder how we'll get caught."

Directed by John Curran, and adapted for the screen by Larry Gross from two short stories written by Andre Dubus, We Don't Live Here Anymore is filled with intelligent, ironic dialogue, vivid characterizations, and deeply felt emotions realistically portrayed.

The performances are stellar. Naomi Watts is outstanding as Edith, the furious housewife reveling in the thrill of her adventure with Jack, hoping deep down to get caught as a means of ending her passionless marriage. Peter Krause is fine, as well, as the outwardly charming, selfish and thoroughly self-absorbed Hank, who is perfectly content with the status quo of having a gorgeous wife to take care of him while he hits on every young cutie to come along.

Mark Ruffalo, who co-produced, beautifully enacts the confliction of Jack, the husband and father who loves his family but feels stuck in a rut after 10 years of marriage, who is in love with Edith but wracked with feelings of guilt and self-loathing for being so. When he reads a passage from Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" to his literature class, it is clear he is pondering his own mortality. When he comes to a moment of truth, during an outing with his children, his anguish is palpable.

As Terry, the wife who will go to any length to save a marriage that is coming apart at the seams, Laura Dern is dazzling. She becomes the focus of attention in whatever scenes she appears, whether acting out the harried mom who can't quite seem to get the hang of managing a household, or the wronged wife who is ferocious about hanging on to what belongs to her. It is a tour de force performance, and as far as I'm concerned, she can start clearing a place on her mantle for an Oscar right now.

In a summer filled with CGI extravaganzas, teen rom-coms, and 20-something dramadies, this intelligent, emotional, character-driven drama for grown-ups is welcome indeed.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8536&reviewer=376
originally posted: 08/19/04 04:20:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/27/07 richard ...haha..garden state and napoleon dynamite..."far wittier, original pieces" please stop. 5 stars
11/09/05 Phil M. Aficionado The cast made this "more real feeling" than the story deserved to be; Just an OK film. 3 stars
7/18/05 steandric great film with great acting, especially from oscar-nominee naomi watts. 5 stars
7/09/05 Charlene Javier Brooding. 3 stars
6/12/05 lindy03 by the end of the film, does anyone give a damn? 1 stars
5/28/05 Strutho remove sharp items from your person before entering the cinema, you want to cut your wrists 1 stars
5/04/05 Indrid Cold Intelligent, detailed portrait of adultery; not a surprise that it's quite unentertaining. 3 stars
1/01/05 MyGreenBed Good acting, realistic situations (for desperate 35 yr old married folk), nice visually. 4 stars
8/31/04 cruella bring your jammies, it's a snore 3 stars
8/24/04 Kacey Kowars Wonderful script, wonderful ensemble acting 5 stars
8/06/04 taxi Horrible people we don't care about in bad marriages 2 stars
7/01/04 jeffrey Worth the time just to see Naomi Watts have sex 4 stars
3/31/04 Eric Mathenson Saw this film at sundance- it was excellent, great acting, great direction. 5 stars
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  13-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004



Directed by
  John Curran

Written by
  Larry Gross

  Mark Ruffalo
  Laura Dern
  Peter Krause
  Naomi Watts

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