We Don’t Live Here Anymore (2004) – movie review

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Movie Review by Toby White

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Naomi Watts, Sam Charles

Director: John Curran

I’m in a quandary. I’ve been thinking about this for days having just seen WE DON’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE. It’s a question that’s now haunting me like a song you hear first thing in the morning and can’t get out of your head all day. Do fashionable novels from the 70s translate well to modern cinema? Had this been made in the 70s? Maybe. Had it been set in the 70s? No, surely, it couldn’t have been taken seriously.

Based on two novels by Andre Dubus, WE DON’T LIVE HERE ANY MORE is pitched as “a provocative drama about married life and its discontents”. That’s code – for boring. Two couples are firm friends living in a small New England university town. The husbands are best buddies and go running together while discussing the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their wives. The wives set up dinner parties, look after the children and discuss the quirks and idiosyncrasies of their husbands. But beneath the idyllic, rose-tinted harmony one pair of opposing partners are having an affair. Which makes the other pair do likewise. Yes, you’ve seen this before. It’s CLOSER. But dated. Well, it would be, it was written a generation ago.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. WDLHAM (excuse the acronym, I just can’t keep typing the title every time) is not without its merits. Brooding, sensitive, emotionally challenging films tend to feature some natty stylistic touches to help set moods and create themes. Some clever editing with jump cuts add to the feeling of unease in certain instances without being disjointed or erratic. The long, purposeful montages with music and audio over-lapping across scenes and muted tones of the cinematography all assist in creating the atmospheric, thought-provoking mood. Similarly, the story makes some good observations about fidelity and marriage.

But for all its stylistic touches it’s tor…tu…ous…ly slo-o-o-o-o-ow and the performances are nothing but perfunctory, full of the usual pained monologues on “why I had to have sex with her” and “I’m so sorry, sweetheart” and the children being innocent pawns in the foolish sexual philanderings of adults. Speaking of children, why do kids in films always watch old films on TV? I don’t know any children that would sit through five minutes of – damn, did I get distracted? I wonder why…

2 out of 6 stars