Movies, Theatre

A Good Marriage should not be disjointed

Tonight turned into a viewing party for a messy Stephen King film adaptation… so 1990s. I feel like it has been many years since a King film appeared in the mainstream. With this film, A Good Marriage, it has arrived at the local Cinema Detroit and through iTunes/VOD, so I chose the latter option.

It’s very disappointing to see noted actors Joan Allen (whom I once met in person) and Anthony LaPaglia slumming it here. Allen, who has been seen too infrequently onscreen in recent years, stars as Darcy, a New England housewife who suddenly suspects her husband (LaPaglia) has a demonic streak. The film keeps the story very simple, as Darcy faces several demonic visions suggesting to her that something is amiss, before eventually making a big decision related to those visions following a family event.

There’s little character development and the film doesn’t rise above a TV movie feel to the whole production, with a focus on tight interiors and clumsy storytelling as scenes move awkwardly from one to the next with little clarity. Allen is paired with character actor Stephen Lang (Avatar and numerous other features) for a sequence late in the game, and the sudden intensity in their scenes suggests a different movie entirely.

I was recently reminded of LaPaglia’s sterling work in Lantana, one of my favorite films of the early 2000s, which shares some thematic similarity with the current Gone Girl, but the actor doesn’t register much here aside from a few intense glances and suggestions of offscreen activities. Allen capably carries the film, but is so one-note with her activities and character agenda, consisting of many different variations of screaming and anxiety, that it’s a huge letdown from her established work in earlier films such as The Ice Storm, The Crucible, The Contender and two of the Bourne films.

Allen recently returned to her theatrical roots at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. In spite of mixed reviews, I would have liked to have seen that.


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