Married Life

DRAMA; 1hr 30min

STARRING: Chris Cooper, Patricia Clarkson

Use-by date: Clarkson and Cooper

The tidy façade of a 1949 marriage hides a mare’s nest of wicked secrets in director Ira Sachs’s beautifully styled Married Life. Mild-mannered Harry Allen (Cooper) and his gracious wife, Pat (Clarkson), are an affluent, long-term couple. But beware deceiving appearances: in fact, the Allens have no idea what each other is really up to. Only their dashing close friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan, reliably suave) is hip to their respective dalliances. And not even Richard — who has a selfish agenda of his own — has a clue that rather than hurt his cherished wife by divorcing her, Harry plans to poison Pat and move on to his ravishing young lover, Kay (Rachel McAdams).


It could be the reserved style of the time, but I didn’t buy into either sober-britches Cooper as a man eaten alive by passion or he and the dewy, vividly lipsticked McAdams as a head-over-heels couple. Still, Harry’s torn attitude to Pat is an urgently ticking clock, and Cooper — guilt-ridden and paradoxically, painfully decent — is potent in the panicked despair of dawning realisation.