Featuring Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Rachel McAdam and Patricia Clarkson this is certainly a film with a big star line up for the cast, with writers and a director who, on paper, don't stand in the same league. However after Married Life, I think they will.
Married Life is the story of relationships between two men and two woman. We are taken through the story by the voiceover of Pierce Brosnan who plays Richard Langley, the single man who enjoys single life and the company of ladies and good friend to Chris Cooper's character Harry Allen, a man who has been faithfully and happily married to his wife Pat, played by Patricia Clarkson, for a long time, so much so that their friends think of them as having the perfect marriage.
However in the opening scenes we see that Harry has invited Richard for a lunch and reveals to him that he's fallen in love with another woman and has invited her to meet him. Enter Rachel McAdams playing Kay Nesbitt and looking absolutely stunning. Richard notices too, and he's as taken as Harry so obviously is.
From here on Richard begins to try and move in between Harry and Kay, and we discover some interesting secrets behind the relationships, the characters and above all their motivations.
What I liked about Married Life is that it concentrates on strong characters and a strong story telling and the actors make those characters seem even more real with natural and engaging performances. It also carries a number of twists and surprises, but none of them go for big cinematic moments, instead they keep the focused on the story and the characters, and although they aren't huge twist moments in blockbuster terms, they do give some great turns in the story and deliver a few surprises.
I have to rewind for a moment and mention the titles for the film. Although they do manage to convey the time period and a feeling of what goes on behind the closed doors of marriage, I have to say that they seemed rather odd and didn't set me up in a good frame of mind for the rest of the movie.
To be honest it was turned totally around by the opening scenes, the voiceover of Brosnan, the performance of Cooper, and the magical moment of when McAdams locks eyes on Cooper for the first time.
That moment was magical, it really was. In that one moment, that one look, you understood just how much her character adored Cooper's, and the appearance of that warm and heartfelt smile was reminiscent of old Hollywood films. It was an amazing scene and an amazing glance that managed to touch me all the way out in the audience. Beautiful timing, wonderful performance from both.
That's something that goes through the whole film, the performances are excellent, particularly from Cooper who plays his character wonderfully, capturing the audience and drawing you into the character.
Brosnan is quite a surprise again. I haven't quite finished thinking of him as Bond, but he does manage to pick these great roles that push him further and further away from that character. Once again he does it here. This is a strong performance from him and he gives an excellent voiceover - I'm sure that sounds rude on some way.
McAdams and Clarkson, although I am mentioning last, are by no means there in terms of performances. McAdam is beautiful and fragile with Clarkson delivering a great duality to her character. Neither of them were window dressing to the story nor were they foils for the male characters.
The closing scenes for the film are really good, and I love the way the characters end up. The ending delivers some strong messages, and some very real ones, but it's all about the journey, and I really enjoyed being taken on that with these characters.
There has to be something said about the costume and set design, it looked just the part to set the period, and never went over that. Not once did anything detract from the story and the characters, and I didn't find myself being distracted by anything during the film. I found I was totally drawn into the story and engaged by the actors.
A great film and a strong story that delivers a few interesting moments and some surprises, all cumulating in an ending that delivers interesting conclusions, and perhaps not the ones you might have expected.
Great performances from all the cast, with some wonderful moments between them and some great lines to deliver, I particularly liked the recurrence of the one line that Brosnan delivers about harming others for our own happiness.
It doesn't happen often, but I wasn't sitting there second guessing the film, I was enjoying the story and the development of the characters, and was drawn into their lives.
Buy or Rent from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Play.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
Search for Married Life on Filmstalker stores
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page
UK IMDB Film Details