We Don't Live Here Anymore (USA; 101 min.)

directed by: John Curran
starring: Mark Ruffalo; Laura Dern; Peter Krause; Naomi Watts
We Don't Live Here Anymore
Beth says: "I missed the first minutes of WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE which, despite starring Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Mark Ruffalo and Peter Krause, was horrible. Sooo booooring! It's about two couples, the women and men each best friends while they inadvertently swap partners by cheating on their spouses - until they find out, and much emoting and pouting and stupid dialogue and drama ensue, all so that nothing really changes by the end. It's based on an Andre Dubus short story (not sure if it's Andre senior or junior, though) - and can we please have a five-year moratorium on adapting any more of either Dubus' stuff, please please pretty please? always so depressing! New rule: from here on in, I'd like my character studies to be comedies, 'kay? 1 cranky cat."

Bruce says: "As what I would call dubious achievements, Andre Dubus and his son Andre Dubus III have captured the art of self destruction in each of his literary efforts which I have seen on the big screen. All their subjects are obsessive-compulsives, the type that just can’t control their emotions once they begin to get out of the range of acceptability. The father, grieving for his dead son and obsessively seeking revenge, in IN THE BEDROOM and both owners of the house, each who believes there is a legal basis for ownership, in HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG have justifications for the anger that drive their moral and/or physical destruction. Jack (Mark Ruffalo) the central character in WE DON”T LIVE HERE ANYMORE is different from other Dubus characters. He is passive-aggressive. And his self-destructive urges aren’t really strong enough to do himself in, just to inflict pain and suffering upon those he loves.

"Jack is having an affair with Edith, his best friend’s wife (Naomi Watts) who happens to be his wife’s best friend. The two couples spend most of their leisure time together. To justify his own adulterous behavior, Jack stirs up the underlying sexual tension between Terry, his wife (Laura Dern) and his friend Hank (Peter Krause), hoping they will have an affair, too. Then no one will be left out in the cold. Good plan, no? Only for a man who is foolish to believe there will be no consequences.

"WE DON”T LIVE HERE ANYMORE is not a pleasant film to watch, but Mark Ruffalo’s and Laura Dern’s performances elevate this film to incredible heights. Naomi Watts is also excellent as the wife who feels it is her turn to have a fling since her husband has bedded many a co-ed in his college classes. Watts is a rare beauty, intriguing to behold because she never looks the same when photographed from different angles. There is always the element of surprise. Her cinematographers should not get sole credit for the surprise for Watts’ acting skills are superb. Who could possible forget her drama audition in MULHOLLAND DR.? And Peter Krause is very good as the philandering husband who aspires to be a published writer.

"Is it my imagination or is it a fact that independent film has elevated the quality of acting we are now witnessing? Certainly we can’t credit Hollywood. Independent film has given talented actors chances they would never receive from most big studios and has brought juicy roles to the screen in dramas that Hollywood never would touch. A decade ago Mark Ruffalo would probably not have had a chance to be a leading man or get top billing over Naomi Watts (who, by the way, is listed as a producer for this film). Few actors could come close to his strong and subtle performance, which for him, is a standard. He stands at the top of his profession. As for Laura Dern, anyone who has seen CITIZEN RUTH should not be surprised by the intensity she brings to her role and how well she communicates the complexities of her character – the rage, the loneliness, the frustrations of her boring daily routine, her inadequacies, her need to love and her craving to be loved. I hope this film brings her the recognition she deserves.

This should be a five cat film, but I was squirming in my seat begging for the end to come soon. 4 cats"

Chris says: "A film with more great performances than the director John Curran knows what to do with: just the cast alone (Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, and Naomi Watts) was all I needed to want to see it. All four leads are good, with Ruffalo finally delivering that great lead performance his admirers have been waiting for since YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. And people put off by Watts' histrionics in 21 GRAMS will love her restraint here.

Unfortunately, it amounts to a slow, brooding tone poem about infidelity/jealously/dysfunction/desire between two married couples in a small college town. I admired that someone chose to make a film about this particular subject. But THE ICE STORM and THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS both had a lot more to say about it, and they tempered their pretensions with humor and depth. Oh well, at least this one's Denis Leary-free. 2.5 cats"

Diane says: "Reading the earlier Chlotrudis reviews has cheered me up! I couldn't feel more differently than 'cranky Beth' who gave this 1 cat. A tone poem about adulterous, jealous couples in which nothing happens (a paraphrase of a couple of reviews)--what more could you want? Keep sending me more Dubus (pere and fils) adaptations! I thought this was just great. Mark Ruffalo will certainly get a nom. (Scot, I hope you have seen this, his handsomest role yet.) Details of family life and little things picked up by the camera are perfect; what goes unsaid is very strong. 4 cats."
Hilary says: "I agree with Beth that it’s time to declare a moratorium on bringing any more works from any generation’s Andre Dubus (I, II, III…). It’s just too much pain with little reward. IN THE BEDROOM was just uncomfortable enough to feel authentic, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG should’ve been distributed with mood-elevating pharmaceuticals, and WE DON’T is so overwrought that it’s frankly silly in parts.

"Who will find a decent movie for Mark Ruffalo to star in? I realized that the last film of his that I saw on the big screen was ETERNAL SUNSHINE (I still want those hours back) and before that the excellent YOU CAN COUNT ON ME."

Marilyn says: "I don't agree with everything that has been said but this movie is worth seeing. I saw a preview with the director in the house and he was very interesting. Apparently, Naomi wanted to play Dern's part and I think she should have. Laura Dern's performance never changes...I didn't believe that the traumatic events had any impact on her. She started out upset and stayed that way....Naomi, on the other hand very quietly and with great skill showed the changes from a very sad and probably abused woman into one that gained strength to make difficult choices that ....(spoiler). Mark Ruffalo continies to make a name for himself---the label of character actor or leading man is blurred by his outstanding work in either part. He is very busy and I look forward to his next role. Peter Krause was a lightweight in this movie. He is trying to become better but I think comedy ('Sportsnight') may be is best forum. He is on Broadway right now and getting very bad reviews for After the Fall. The director acknowleded that he tried to make the film feel timeless and some critics are not happy bc it deviates from the two short stories it is based upon. The actions of people in the 70's might not be the same today. For instance, the two women do not work....and the dirty house as a symbol of a chaotic personality..mm.mmm...but I didn't mind all of that bc the issues are alive and well and timeless in many ways. The director is very nice and has now put down roots back in his hometown of Rochester. He will be flying out often to LA and Sydney Australia but his base is western NY.
Michael says: "After all the differing opinions, I was looking forward to seeing this adaptation of two Andre Dubus short stories. In this examination of married couples, adultery and the way we treat those we 'love,' four friends, two married couples, find themselves in relationships without love. Jack (Mark Ruffalo) is having an affair with his wife Terry’s (Laura Dern) best friend Edith (Naomi Watts). It also happens that Edith is married to Jack’s best friend Hank (Peter Krause). To assuage his guilt, or perhaps divert attention, or maybe because he’s feeling so numb and wants to feel something, he tries subversively goading Terry into sleeping with Hank. As the movie unfolded, I was immediately turned off by the unlikable, obnoxious behavior of the two married couples around which the story revolves. Slowly, while the characters remained fairly off-putting, I found myself becoming fairly engrossed with the story.

"The story is very male in its point-of-view. Perhaps that’s because it was written by a man. While there are some insights into the way women are treated (although as Marilyn mentioned, the roles played by the four main characters seem slightly dated, with the men playing university professors and the women homemakers and mothers) and taken for granted, the true insight is reserved for the men, and it’s not a very pretty sight. Director John Curran uses some visual symbolism and scene cutting to make some strong points. While Jack and Terry represent the more emotional of the two couples, and Hank and Edith the more superficial, it is Edith that has the strongest story arc.

"On that note, I found the performances to be a somewhat mixed bag. Naomi Watts leads the pack with a powerful and subdued performance that, as Chris mentioned in his review, redeems her hysterics in 21 GRAMS. I was surprised that although I disliked his somewhat stereotypical character, I thought Peter Krause did a fairly good job as the self-absorbed, womanizing professor. Laura Dern was pretty strong as the emotional basket case who is desperately seeking love, both to give and receive. Where I will differ from most others is my appraisal of Mark Ruffalo. I’ve never been all that impressed with him. He’s put in some good performances in various films, but nothing yet as blown me away. And of the four characters in this film, I found his to be the flattest. I did not buy him at all as a university professor, and he couldn’t adequately convey the emotion needed for his critical part.

"Like Hilary, I did find myself laughing occasionally at some silly, overwrought scenes. And I did find the final scene to be fairly perplexing. But all in all, WE DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE is an involving study of human relationships. 4 cats"


Bob G. says: "I liked this much more than I expected... Dubus' material is generally so strong it seems difficult for anyone but the most inept to foul it up. But, director John Curran does a remarkable job of holding our attention on what is almost exclusively a character study of fairly unlikable people. Michael Convertino's music is exceptional, especially in the 'space' montage. Bummer that there isn't a soundtrack."

Michael replies: "I’m glad that Bob mentioned the score! I forgot to mention it in my review, but I also thought it was exceptional. Varied and providing a lot of texture, without any of the overblown highlighting that is so often misused even in independent films today."