In a time when the gay marriage issue takes over political debates, where some are arguing that allowing it would ruin the “sanctity” marriage, how come no one ever brings up the fact that straight people are the ones defiling marriage? Various sources claim that about 50% of marriages end in divorce. You would think that ruins the “sanctity” of marriage, right? It appears that those in power don’t see it that way and “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” is yet another movie about two unhappy straight couples, whose marriages are on the verge of collapse.
The film opens up at the house of Jack and Terry Linden (Mark Ruffalo and Laura Dern), where they are having a good time drinking and dancing with their good friends Hank and Edith Evans (Peter Krause and Naomi Watts). When the gang runs out of alcohol, Jack and Edith head to the nearest package store, where we then learn that they are having an affair with each other. Not too much time later you also learn that Terry and Hank are also having an affair with each other, proving once again that marriages get stale, people change, and monogamy is a lot harder than most people think.
The rest of the film is spent on trying to figure out what the characters really think about their choices and how it affects them. Jack and Hank have been obvious friends for a long time, so for Jack to have sex with Edith, he has to have some sort of problem with it (besides the fact that he is having sex with someone other than his wife) no matter how small it may be. And it shows too, in a scene where Hank and Jack go on one of their usual runs through the woods. Just moments before, Jack had sex with Edith on almost the same path they run on. As they jog, Jack flashes back to those erotic moments that happened in that same location moments prior and either the guilt he carries, or something terrible he ate for lunch, causes him to throw up.
“We Don’t Live Here Anymore” is based on a couple of short stories from writer Andre Dubus, which is the same author of the story that 2001’s “In The Bedroom” was based on. Like that film, a lot of dialogue is shared amongst the couples (mainly the Lindens) in their own bedroom, where accusations of adultery and tales of secret love are shared openly and honestly.
Something that makes the dialogue so unique is the terrific performances from the actors that deliver them. Between this, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Collateral,” it is safe to say that Mark Ruffalo can now graduate from supporting role to major player. We can also forgive him for “13 Going On 30.” Both Peter Krause and Laura Dern haven’t been around too much lately, yet they return to the screen like they have been practicing and honing in on their skills doing stage productions.
So what is wrong with this film? Great performances and candid dialogue don’t make up all the essence of a great film. The actual story itself is where the film falls flat. This is simply another film about the miseries of marriage. We have read this story, seen this movie, and even experienced the subject matter first-hand, for us to care anymore unless you throw in something new.