Directed by: John Curran | 101 minutes | drama | Actors: Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Krause, Sam Charles, Haili Page, Jennifer Bishop, Jennifer Mawhinney, Amber Rothwell, Meg Roe, Jim Francis, Marc Baur, Partrick Earley
The data is by no means original. Put two dead couples together, carefully let some erotic sparks jump and don’t forget to add a few innocent children who will be the victims of all this. A classic relationship drama will be the classic result. ‘We Don’t Live Here Anymore’ follows this recipe closely, except that in this case the first couple still has enough love to generate mutual hatred, while the second couple is so non-communicative that even during the act of love eye contact exists. There is no doubt that the cross adultery will eventually cause serious damage. But are we actually interested in that?
Although the plot is not very original, a talented filmmaker should be able to make something nice out of it. Unfortunately, director John Curran only partially succeeded. The biggest objection of “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” concerns the dialogues. Although there is plenty of chatting, the dialogues lack the sharpness you would expect from a drama situated in an academic environment. Frequently the altercations do not go beyond the outbreak of hollow clichés and then it becomes difficult to suppress a yawn.
Another objection is the defective character drawing. The characters remain unfinished sketches and that makes identification difficult. Thus the drama never becomes palpable, no matter how much there is talk, scolding, crying and making love. The fact that there is also very little development in the story does not make things any more exciting.
Against these negatives is the fantastic acting of the quartet of protagonists, with the ladies Watts and Dern in particular in a class of their own. The photography, intelligent editing and supporting music are also well taken care of, while the slow tempo seems to go well with the many emotional outbursts. It’s not enough to save the movie, but it does make sure that watching it isn’t a punishment either.
As a drama, ‘We Don’t Live Here Anymore’ could be placed somewhere between ‘Closer’ (2004) and ‘The Ice Storm’ (1997) but without the sharp dialogues of the former and the thoughtful character drawings and compelling plot development of the latter. . The film also has in common with “Closer” that it is not recommended for couples in love. For couples on the brink of divorce, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” might just be the decisive push. Everyone has to decide for themselves whether that is a warning or a recommendation.