Madden stages the action with a minimum of imagination and gets a career-worst performance out of Davis in a key role, but the material still sputters to life on the strength of the writing and Paltrow's commitment to the part.
An elegant adaptation to the screen, with the play's qualities largely intact and great performances from Paltrow and Hope Davis, as her sister. Jake Gyllenhaal and Anthony Hopkins complete a dream cast.
We are invited to believe that Hopkins, Paltrow and Gyllenhaal all have, in their various ways, alpha-brains. They look to me like they couldn't recite the three-times-table without smoke coming out of their ears.
Sadly, the impact of the clever parallelogram of emotional and philosophical concerns in Auburn and Rebecca Miller's screenplay is deadened by the director's overly literal -- mechanical -- cinematic interpretation.