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From the Vault: Married Life


Married Life (

Married Life
Starring Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson, Pierce Brosnan, Rachel McAdams
Rated PG-13; available on DVD

"Funny, isn't it...what we do for love?"

Harry Allen (Cooper) is married to Pat (Clarkson), but he's in love with Kay Nesbitt (McAdams), which he confesses to his best friend Richard (Brosnan) over lunch. Harry feels that Pat would be devastated if he left her and frets over how to handle the situation. Richard wisely stays out of it...until he meets Kay and is smitten by her youthful sweetness. Meanwhile, Harry becomes convinced that the only way to avoid hurting Pat and spare her the grief of a broken marriage is to kill her. Such is Married Life.

The story becomes even more complicated when Richard decides that he wants Kay for himself and starts carefully courting her behind Harry's back. After he discovers that Pat is having an affair of her own and that she is torn over destroying Harry's world, he realizes that he holds the key to releasing all of them from their guilt. Unfortunately, that release would ultimately compromise his chances with Kay. Unbeknownst to him, however, Harry is already plotting a "blissful release" for Pat.

While it sounds like the makings of a soap opera story line, Married Life is actually a smartly written film about the lengths that people will go to in order to alleviate their unhappiness. Although it's set in 1949, the dialogue isn't drenched in overdramatic, stylistic propriety. It probes the concept of guilt and whether people can live with the consequences of their actions in a very realistic, slightly humorous way. Oscar-winner Cooper does a fantastic job of playing a man who truly believes that it would be more merciful to kill his wife than to leave her. The movie ultimately poses two sobering questions through Richard: How can you truly ever know what goes on in the mind of the person sleeping next to you? And perhaps more importantly, can a good person build their happiness on the unhappiness of another?


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