|by Brian Orndorf
It’s another peek into the strain of marriage with the drama “Every Day,” though this particular snapshot of marital friction is blessed with a gifted cast able to pull the interior ache out of a script that eventually grows to fail them completely. A scattered picture, the viewing experience is saved by a few tender scenes of resignation and the occasional blip of honest communication.
Ned (Live Schreiber) is a writer on a trashy television drama struggling to maintain the artistic ugliness expected of him. His wife, Jeannie (Helen Hunt), is distant, lost in her own hell with an elderly father (Brian Dennehy) who needs constant care, while his oldest son (Ezra Miller) deals with his developing homosexuality. Watching the chaos of life separate his family, Ned is soon tempted by co-worker Robin (Carla Gugino), who offers a certain lustful reprieve from the daily grind of domesticity.
Television vet Richard Levine (“Nip/Tuck”) makes his filmmaking debut with “Every Day,” which carries all the hallmarks of a weekly network drama. The trials of a dysfunctional family supply a comfortable storyline for Levine to hone his chops, detailing the struggles of suburbanites as they sour on the human experience, learning to appreciate what they have when faced with the dire reality of life beyond the family unit.
It’s routine material, yet the first half of the film rolls along pleasingly, depicting the madness of a well-oiled household dealing with appointments, job demands, and personal expression. Levine outlines plausible woe with realistic characters, people who fight to maintain order in their lives despite facing punishing emotional concerns and the threat of interpersonal monotony. Ned and Jeannie are vividly scripted as a distanced twosome losing their unity as a couple, divided on methods of parenting and caregiving, with the separation pulling them in opposite directions. Ned takes to the comfort of an easy woman as a way to flirt with disaster, while Jeannie is forced to confront the reality of her estranged father, finally getting to know the man on the eve of his death. The script’s woe is genuine for the opening acts, capturing the stress of this family superbly, seeking to explore the degrees of exhales before all patience is lost.
Levine is assisted by the splendid cast, with special attention paid to Schreiber, who hasn’t been this effortlessly human in years. He’s believable as a father (accepting of his gay son, but worried about the boy’s social life) and as a man excited by the prospect of female attention. Schreiber also shows chemistry with Hunt, who has the less glamorous role of the careworn daughter/mother in the midst of punishing responsibility she can’t handle alone. Hunt’s weathered expressions are often more effective than her dialogue.
The AVC encoded image (1.85:1 aspect ratio) presentation benefits from superb clarity, providing a marvelous view of the cast and their numerous reactions of concern. Hunt alone is a road map of worry, with the image allowing a survey of facial nuances and age. Set design particulars also shine, supplying evocative office interiors and club encounters. Colors are generally muted, best with outdoor adventures, maintaining an accurate read on environmental changes. Shadow detail is strong, pulling out textures from thick hair and costumes. The only downside here is the modest appearance of ghosting, injecting a synthetic look that robs the film of any cinematic quality.
The 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix delivers the basic goods without deviating from the established theatrical design. Dialogue is key here, pushed frontal to hold exposition and conflict without losing the listener. Surrounds are useful for atmospherics and dance sequences, filling out the mix with an agreeable read of group activity. Soundtrack cuts provide some low-end interest, while scoring cues are forceful without overwhelming the verbal exchanges. The essentials of the picture are well cared for, but rarely does the track convey an invigorating dramatic energy.
English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered.
“Cast Interviews” (14:12) talks to the principals on-set, who chat up the meaning of the film, along with their various motivations. The tone is promotional, but the information is useful, especially from the director, who offers needed personal perspective.
“Deleted Scenes” (8:01) present only minor fragments of character and household commotion, with the best scene offering a peek at Jonah’s (played by Miller) daily life in high school, with its bullies and crushes. Criminally, there is no Play All function for the seven scenes.
And a Theatrical Trailer is included.
Unfortunately, Levine drives “Every Day” straight into a wall for the final act, creating melodramatic disasters for the gang to unearth a heightened sense of closure. Drugs are brandished, death comes knocking, and infidelity is served up, turning a film of delicate observation into a tiresome blast of the drastic. Levine didn’t need hysterics to find an appropriate ending, with the established atmosphere of chaos and regret interesting enough to carry matters all the way to the final frame.
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originally posted: 03/19/11 06:35:30