“Married Life” is one of those films with a title so forgettable and a shelf life so brief that most movie fans have never even heard of it. True story about my own experience with the film: it showed up on the screening schedule one week, and I entered it into my calendar. I arrived on the appointed day and time, settled in for the movie----about a minute into the opening credits, I realized I'd seen the movie months earlier, before its release date had been pushed back.
I liked the film, and I STILL couldn't match that tells-you-nothing title with the movie!
Not that "Married Life" is lacking in star power or script. This is a perfectly drawn period piece, set in the late 1940s—that post-war time when a certain breed of man wore hats, drank hard liquor at lunch, smoked cigarettes non-stop and did a little skirt-chasing on the side. Rachel McAdams is a platinum blonde stunner and Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper are the men who will do just about anything to have her. Chris Cooper is Harry Allen, a straight-shooter in a seemingly happy marriage to Patricia Clarkson’s Pat.
Like Cooper, Pierce Brosnan is probably about a decade too old for the role he’s playing, but he’s appropriately smooth and narcissistic as Harry’s best friend Richard, a career womanizer. Fueled but the twisted belief that Pat would rather die than face the humiliation and heartbreak of divorce, Harry hatches a plan, and I'll just leave it at that.
Director and co-writer Ira Sachs isn’t trying to do a “Far From Heaven” here. This isn’t an homage; it’s a film that tries to look and sound of its time, with no inside jokes. Bronsan’s deadpan narrative lends just the right touch. McAdams is beautiful and alluring and not so innocent—just the kind of woman that inspires men to contemplate leaving or even killing their wives or betraying their best friends. Cooper and Clarkson are sublime in creating a marriage still filled with tenderness, even as they lie to each other with breezy consistency. With a quick 90-minute running time, this film rarely misses a step. It would make a fine addition to your list of hidden-gem films to rent on a winter weekend.