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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.27%
Worth A Look: 25.45%
Pretty Bad: 23.64%
Total Crap: 14.55%

7 reviews, 13 user ratings

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We Don't Live Here Anymore
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Loey Lockerby

"Like listening to your alcoholic neighbors fight for two hours"
2 stars

Film snobs like to argue that independent features are better than what Hollywood puts out, usually insisting that indies are more “real” and “honest.” That may be true, but only if everyone you know is bi-polar.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve headed for the local art house, only to be subjected to two hours of characters philosophizing about their miserable lives, punctuated by big emotional moments that never add up to much.

“We Don’t Live Here Anymore” is yet another entry in that subgenre, a movie about unlikable people doing unpleasant things, then talking about it. A lot. Jack (Mark Ruffalo) and Terry (Laura Dern) are married to each other, but they spend most of their time drinking and getting into screaming matches. Jack’s best friend, Hank (Peter Krause), is married to Edith (Naomi Watts), but he’s been cheating on her since day one, and now she’s returning the favor – with Jack. Hank and Terry also start getting it on, because she’s desperate for ANY intimacy and he’s incredibly horny and self-involved.

Actually, they’re all pretty horny and self-involved, which makes it hard to be all that interested in who ends up boinking whom or why. The script is based on two Andre Dubus stories, and if you’ve seen other adaptations of his work, like “In the Bedroom” or “House of Sand and Fog,” you know what a cheerful guy he is. The makers of those films knew that the only way to keep an audience engaged with such relentlessly downbeat material was to provide strong characters and an almost Shakespearean sense of tragedy. Director John Curran and writer Larry Gross do not have such finesse. They never give enough backstory on the lead characters to make their actions understandable. It’s never remotely clear why these people even married each other in the first place, let alone why their marriages aren’t working out, and personal motivations seem almost completely arbitrary. They’re just unhappy, and the whole film is mired in this aimless depression. It’s the best cinematic argument for celibacy I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen “Little Black Book.”

The only thing that saves “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” is the quality of the acting, which is exactly what you’d expect from these performers. Ruffalo and Dern wear their characters’ frustrations and regrets openly, and you can see how close they both are to self-destructing, as individuals and as a couple. Watts and Krause are much more subdued, as befits their outwardly perfect, inwardly imploding characters. All four leads convey a depth of emotion that transcends the one-note script, and it’s through sheer force of will and talent that they succeed in holding your attention for any length of time.

As the movie drags on, the urge to yell advice at the screen becomes nearly overwhelming. It’s like watching a relationship horror movie, where characters keep doing dumb, frustrating things because that’s what the story demands of them.

Just try to get through this without shouting “Your kids can hear you!” or “Keep your pants on!” at least half a dozen times. Assuming you care enough to even bother.

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originally posted: 09/07/04 02:33:56
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/28/07 richard state and napoleon dynamite..."far wittier, original pieces" please stop. 5 stars
11/10/05 Phil M. Aficionado The cast made this "more real feeling" than the story deserved to be; Just an OK film. 3 stars
7/18/05 steandric great film with great acting, especially from oscar-nominee naomi watts. 5 stars
7/10/05 Charlene Javier Brooding. 3 stars
6/13/05 lindy03 by the end of the film, does anyone give a damn? 1 stars
5/28/05 Strutho remove sharp items from your person before entering the cinema, you want to cut your wrists 1 stars
5/05/05 Indrid Cold Intelligent, detailed portrait of adultery; not a surprise that it's quite unentertaining. 3 stars
1/02/05 MyGreenBed Good acting, realistic situations (for desperate 35 yr old married folk), nice visually. 4 stars
8/31/04 cruella bring your jammies, it's a snore 3 stars
8/25/04 Kacey Kowars Wonderful script, wonderful ensemble acting 5 stars
8/07/04 taxi Horrible people we don't care about in bad marriages 2 stars
7/02/04 jeffrey Worth the time just to see Naomi Watts have sex 4 stars
4/01/04 Eric Mathenson Saw this film at sundance- it was excellent, great acting, great direction. 5 stars
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  13-Aug-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004



Directed by
  John Curran

Written by
  Larry Gross

  Mark Ruffalo
  Laura Dern
  Peter Krause
  Naomi Watts

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