Married Life

Critics Consensus

Married Life has excellent performances and flashes of dark wit, but it suffers from tonal shifts and uneven pacing.



Total Count: 118


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,079
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Movie Info

A very gentle middle-aged man is married, but when he falls in love with another woman, he decides that to divorce his wife will be to humiliate her too much. So instead he decides to kill her.


Pierce Brosnan
as Richard Langley
Chris Cooper
as Harry Allen
Rachel McAdams
as Kay Nesbitt
David Wenham
as John O'Brien
Terence Kelly
as Dr. Anderson
Sheila Paterson
as Mrs. Walsh
Elijah St. Germain
as Little Charlie
Rebecca Codling
as Photo Store Clerk
Timothy Webber
as Alvin Walters
Dolores Drake
as Ticket Taker
Malcom Boddington
as Well-Tailored Man
Sean Tyson
as Policeman
Ty Olsson
as Policeman
Anna Williams
as O'Brien's Girlfriend
Kathleen Duborg
as Charades Player
Suzanne Ristic
as Charades Player
Mike Cook
as Charades Player
Dale Floyd
as Charades Player
Alex Stevens
as Charades Player
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News & Interviews for Married Life

Critic Reviews for Married Life

All Critics (118) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (64) | Rotten (54)

  • It's a good cast, with Cooper outstanding, but Sachs's direction is stodgy and the screenplay is grindingly self-conscious.

    Aug 1, 2008 | Rating: 2/5
  • A well-acted but lugubrious noir, which is somehow not quite thrilling enough to be a thriller, and not quite profound enough to be a character study.

    Aug 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The layers of deception are as meticulously constructed as the impeccable 1940s production and costume design. Unfortunately, the film doesn't maintain that distinctive noir cruelty, as hard as red lacquered finger nails.

    Aug 1, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It looks beautiful, and the convoluted plotting is initially the right side of Hitchcock pastiche, but the central conundrum is teased out over so many twists and false climaxes that ultimately it's a shrug, not a shock, which greets the denouement.

    Jul 31, 2008 | Rating: 3/6 | Full Review…
  • Sachs combines humor, suspense, and twists of plot that keep the ground shifting under our feet.

    Apr 13, 2008 | Full Review…
  • It's as dry as the martinis these well-dressed stiffs keep ordering at that perfectly preserved oak, leather and velvet bar before hopping into their vintage convertibles.

    Apr 4, 2008 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for Married Life

  • Sep 20, 2011
    I prejudged based on the cast that this would be a great period piece and love story...I was wrong. The plot itself seems interesting, but it's actually really boring. When it was over, I had the "That's it?" moment.
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Nov 05, 2010
    The characters are rich and the acting excellent, but nothing in this subdued little thriller really seems to stick. As a chamber drama or a little sociological portrait of infidelity of the upper-middle class, Married Life does the trick, but aren't there a million other movies like this? There's nothing fundamentally that sets this apart from the scores of other movies about barely-restrained marital dissatisfaction. I mean, why give this a second when Far From Heaven is sitting there, an infinitely richer and more original exploration of similar themes? I don't mean to discredit the successes of Married Life; as I sat through it, it disarmed me with its surprising compassion toward its characters and the mature interpretations from the performers channeling them. Perhaps the quality that DOES make this movie stand out is an attempt to place a desperately unlikable protagonist in front of us and ask us to forgive and understand him. The one problem here is that Chris Cooper is simply irredeemable, as hard as the movie tries. The attempts at drawing sympathy for his situation are admirable and ambitious, but they simply fall short - it is extremely difficult to vindicate such repulsive actions without seeming overly manipulative, and though Married Life nobly attempts a quieter justification, it isn't enough. The only other surprise Married Life has up its sleeve is a fantastic performance by Rachel McAdams. We fully expect Chris Cooper to be great, so no surprise there. Pierce Brosnan offers nothing exceptional but operates well within type; Clarkson, as much as I love her, offers a studied but uncomplicated riff on her "housewife experienced in the art of suffering" routine. McAdams, though, is a fascinating actress; her highly limited filmography speaks well of an enigmatic allure, which she funnels elegantly into Kay Nesbitt. Kay is a deceptively deep woman, observant and compassionate but with a clear sense of what she wants for herself. She hesitates, but not because she is expected to, but out of legitimate concern for others. We learn something new about her in every scene we spend with her; McAdams does a commendable job unfurling different layers of this character as the film progresses, never giving us too little or too much. So great. I really wish there was more to this movie, because I feel like it's perched on the brink of greatness but just needed a bit more thought. Another rewrite. Something to energize it more. Maybe a sharper visual eye - there's nothing interesting to look at here other than the opening titles. In its current form, it's doomed to be forgotten, if only to be rediscovered as an actorly curio and subsequently reminding its finders why it was forgotten in the first place.
    Drew S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 06, 2010
    it's odd the lengths someone will go to, to not hurt someone they love/loved. i really liked it. i couldn't stop watching it, very suspenseful. you can't help but feel like at any moment someone is going to be murdered. it's dark, but very true to life.. everyone's been in a relationship like these depicted in this movie.
    Alexis N Super Reviewer
  • Apr 18, 2010
    Have you ever lied to someone you loved? Have you ever told them something about yourself wasn't true? Have you ever told them that you were working late when in reality you were not? Ira Sachs black comedy about marital woes and deception set against the backdrop of 1940's society is a bleak, smart and audaciously witty dramedy that leaves little to the imagination as it leads you down the road of murder most foul and deception most devious that plays better than it should and works better than you would ever expect. It is a story that an older generation can relate too as a younger one will overlook the film as dull and uninteresting. Let me tell you as a younger generation I completely sympathized and liked the characters even if they were all lying to each other it is fun to watch them skirt around the truth as they plot and scheme against one another in this twisted tale of love gone badly. Ira Sachs' "Married Life" is just as the title suggest it is about married life and the trials and tribulations that a married couple go through everyday the ups and downs Ira Sachs' blunt dramedy doesn't let you off the hook easy when it comes to theses themes but you won't shy away if that's what you think. It is very easy on the eyes, but as I said before most of the elder generation may find this film hard to watch as someone in their life has been cheated on or they themselves been cheated. it's a touchy subject believe me, but here that is not the case it's more about how love can easily fall apart as easily as it can be built, how the choices we make can affect the ones we love and how sometimes when we least expect it you fall in love with the last person you would expect. Ira Sachs shows us suburban life in the 40's that we seldom see today his film is a homage to the dark screwball comedies of the golden era and also a tribute to film noir with its stark lighting, it's wickedly sharp narrative and dialogue and gloomy undertones that give it that old time feel. What makes a film special is heart if a film has no heart it has no soul if a film has no soul it has no character and if a film has no character than what is it? I'll tell you nothing more than people walking around talking lines that should mean something and should leave a lasting effect, while "Married Life" doesn't leave a lasting impression on audiences it gives them a zany and quirky look into the love lives of four very normal yet strange individuals. I liked the atmosphere, I liked the style of the film how it worked but what I liked most of all was the narration by Pierce Brosnan it wasn't just about him but also about Harry(Chris Cooper) and his wife Pat(Patricia Clarkson). The narration doe not leave you out in the cold or leave you without answers to your questions and that to me is a major accomplishment of this film and one of the key highlights of the story and plot. What I did not like, and to me what almost undid all of this films accomplishment was the uneven pace if a little more even it would have been a great movie instead of good. I am a massive, massive fan of Chris Cooper to me he is one of cinemas most versatile and underrated actors of the 21st century he is amazing in everything he does. He is one of the few actors I am proud to say can never gives a bad performance and here he displays one of his good not great performances as a husband trying to spare his wife the embarrassment of divorce. Cooper is all emotions on this one he does not rely on pure ferocity and cunning as he does in most of his performances here it is all emotions and brains that drive Cooper's determined character Harry Allen. Cooper is a perfect fit for this odd and quirky type of role that may not seem like a perfect fit but truth be told he is he slips perfectly into the role that you do not even think of him as Chris Cooper the actor but as Harry Allen the distressed husband. Cooper is one of the main reasons to see this film. Pierce Brosnan was and still is a childhood favorite of mine he was the hero from some of m favorite James Bond movies and from one of my favorite T.V. shows "Remington Steele", here as Richard Langley the best friend to Chris Cooper's character Harry Allen he is a near-perfect fit. Brosnan is all charm and sophistication as usual as player Richard Langley who ends up finding love in an unusual way, what I liked most about Brosnan's performance is the way he plays Langley with such style and grace. He gives his character a tenacious never give up attitude when it comes to women and that too me adds a little more charm and also a little darker side to the character as the women he pursues could end up destroying his life and yet he still pursues her. Brosnan is no one trick pony in this film and he seems to have everything figured out, or so you think. Rachel McAdams is fantastic as the women every man wants her beautiful face and platinum blond hair give her the look of Jean Harlow one of Hollywood's prominent hopefuls taken before her time. McAdams may not have allotted screen time and may only serve as a side character in the story of Harry Allen she is the main reason the story works. If it was some other actress it wouldn't have been as convincing you need someone of McAdams skill to play a character like Kay, "dear sweet Kay" as Pierce Brosnan's narration describes her and that is how I describe McAdams dear and oh so sweet. I am not a big fan of Patricia Clarkson in fact I don't really like her at all she(to me at least) doesn't seem like great actress material or good actress material for that matter. Here she gives a performance that I will go out on a limb and say is exceptional Clarkson gives it all she has to play a sex loving wife who seems to care more about her husband then herself(which in my book is suspicious). Clarkson is great, does a fine job of holding her own against Brosnan, Cooper and McAdams, and comes out as one of the lesser acts in this film but still worthy of being called good. Ira Sachs' "Married Life? may not impress all but it does impress with it's wit and charm and intelligent, well written dialogue that flows like water down a riverbed it just works. What also works about this film are the actors, the actors play off each other and the film's story beautifully making "Married Life" one of the more charming films you can seen in your spare time grant it this film was severely overlooked and immensely underrated when it was released back in 2008. While summer blockbusters like "Iron Man,? "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the crystal Skull" and "The Dark Knight? were dominating the box-office this film quietly made its run in limited release where few heard of it and seldom saw. I liked this film more than I thought I would and from what I saw I thought it would be better than what it was but for what it was it was fantastic and I am proud to say I very much enjoyed it.
    C.R. L Super Reviewer

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