John Curran, We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Movies
January 22nd, 2005 • 7:00 am

I’d read a rather glowing review of this film in The New Yorker a few months ago, and it was on pay-per-view this week, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I don’t really like pay-per-view much, mostly because the programmers still haven’t grasped the fact that, even in North America, most movie watchers like widescreen and have big enough TV sets to endure the letterbox format if need be. (The immense majority of movies shown on pay-per-view are in full-screen format.) But it’s cheaper than buying the DVD, and it’s 300 km closer to home than the nearest acceptable movie theatre in this part of the world. So on the whole pay-per-view is still a half-decent way to try movies that one would not try otherwise.

I must admit I failed to see what was “extraordinary” about this movie. The subject matter was rather ordinary (adultery etc.). The treatment was rather conventional. And there was nothing particularly enthralling, insightful or beautiful about the movie — except maybe some of the music.

I certainly did not perceive the emotional strength mentioned by the reviewer. “Extremely moving“? Mmm. I don’t know.

What was appreciated was that the screenplay didn’t resort to any cheap tricks, like an extremely violent act by one of the characters, or some act of God that might have led to a sharp turn of events. It looked as if the director was tempted a couple of times, with that railtrack crossing and the freight train, and also when Jack (Mark Ruffalo), in emotional turmoil, find himself alone with his two kids standing on the edge of a cliff.

But nothing spectacular happens. Life goes on, as they say. Which is fine — but then what exactly is the point? I am still wondering.

As usual (it’s the same in the vast majority of movies made these days), the movie fails to explore or explain the motivations of the characters. Which I suppose means that we are not expected to identify with them. But then I am afraid that it’s hard to find any kind of emotional depth either in the script or in the characters. That makes the New Yorker review even more puzzling.

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