Tuesday 17 July 2018

Married Life - 2007 film review

Married Life is the rather odd (and to my mind unsatisfactory) title given to a 2007 American film version by Ira Sachs of a novel published more than half a century earlier by the British crime novelist and spy John Bingham. The book, Five Roundabouts to Heaven, was his second published novel, and is regarded as one of his best. It appeared in 1953 and had the alternative title The Tender Poisoner, which was the name given to a tv version in 1962 in the Alfred Hitchcock Hour series.

The film is set in 1949, with the action shifted across the Atlantic: many of the scenes were filmed around Vancouver. The strong cast includes Pierce Brosnan, who plays Richard, a likeable chap who has a particular liking for attractive women. His closest friend, Harry (Chris Cooper) is married to Pat (Patricia Carlson) but actually having a torrid affair with Kay (Rachel McAdams). After being introduced to Kay, Richard too becomes smitten, and things inevitably become complicated.

As the alternative title to the book suggests, Harry decides that the ideal solution to his marital dilemma is to murder Pat painlessly. But like so many other wannabe killers before him, he discovers that committing the perfect crime is not as easy as he'd like to believe. And then it turns out that Pat nurses a secret of her own...

This is a quirky film, and is much more entertaining than its commonplace title suggests. Ira Sachs offers plenty of touches of dark humour as well as a sequence of unpredictable developments. The historical setting adds to a sense of playful unreality which is part of its appeal. A major bonus with the DVD is the director's commentary on the three alternative endings that he toyed with. No spoilers from me, but they are well worth watching, as is the film as a whole. Although I haven't read Bingham's book, I'm now keen to do so. He was an interesting and sometimes original writer.


Clothes In Books said...

Most interesting. I HAVE read 5 roundabouts - it is a very clever book. I had no idea that this film existed and now am keen to watch it!

K V Laihonen said...

Bingham's excellent book is rather poorly served by Sachs, despite the more than competent cast and authentic flavour of the setting - I refer to the botched ending he chose for the final cut of the film. Wheras one of the alternatives shown in the DVD extras follows the original much better and is, to my mind, the one anyone with a modicum of sense would have opted for. Still, it makes interesting viewing, until the very end.