WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Terry (Laura Dern) and Jack (Mark Ruffalo) are best friends with Edith (Naomi Watts) and Hank (Peter Krause), but there’s something bubbling under the surface that’s putting strain on the friendship between the two couples.
Whether through boredom, frustration, jealousy or natural over-familiarity, uncontrollable, forbidden passions cause harmless flirtations to blossom into full-on extramarital affairs.
When the group’s secrets start to emerge, the couples – and their friendship – are stretched to breaking point.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
What makes this film work is its outstanding performances. It’s a real actors’ piece.
By virtue of the fact that it’s largely a film about people talking to each other, a weaker cast couldn’t have held it together.
Whether it’s desperation, longing, loneliness or bitterness, the emotions of the characters are palpable and despite the uncomfortable nature of their actions, most people will recognise some of themselves somewhere in the mix.
But despite some sharp one-liners in the script, there are elements of the story which don’t come off the page too convincingly. The relationships are so messed up, you do wonder whether the couples could ever really have been happy in the first place.
But the way the affairs develop and are handled is as impressive to watch as it is difficult.
Short of “extra marital problems could put your marriage in jeopardy” there are few messages to come out of this film, so we don’t really learn much from their discomfort.
Make no mistake. This is a heavy ride, with few lighter moments. But it’s a powerful and emotional ride, nonetheless.