Home | Reviews | Exclusive Writings | Great Links | Miscellaneous | FAQ | Contact Us

We Don't Live Here Anymore /

Rated: R

Starring: Naomi Watts, Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Peter Krause, Sam Charles

Directed by: John Curran

Produced by: Jonas Goodman, Harvey Kahn, Naomi Watts
Written by:
Larry Gross
Distributor: Warner Independent Pictures


Mark Ruffalo and Naomi Watts in Warner Independent Pictures' We Don't Live Here Anymore
Laura Dern and Naomi Watts in Warner Independent Pictures' We Don't Live Here Anymore
Peter Krause in Warner Independent Pictures' We Don't Live Here Anymore

     In We Don’t Live Here Anymore, Jack and Terry Linden and Hank and Edith Evans have quite a situation on their hands. All four are good friends, but, early on in the movie, we take notice that their relationships with each other are more than just a little affectionate. They all participate in adultery—messily swapping partners behind each others backs—leaving their partners in states of strong non-confrontational suspicion about the activities they engage in. Each member of the foursome has their own attitude towards promiscuity, but, ultimately, theirs is driven by longing. The movie shows that humans aren’t only obsessed with some things, but also obsessed with obsession.

     Yes, the subject matter is unthinkable, albeit real, and the experience is downright devastating. But, granted those two matter-of-fact details, I enjoyed We Don’t Live Here Anymore, through and through. In the end-stretch of stinky summer-movies, the quiet, thoughtful, independent film is the one to be cherished. Hollywood has left me with no choice but to take pleasure in seeing directors take on wife-swapping and perversion. I feel sad for them. Maybe I’m awarding this movie brownie-points for being different, something I could sink my teeth into. Whatever the reason I’m fond of it seems insignificant, for it is certainly pure filmmaking.

     The movie plays out like magic realism, with tons of realism and no magic. But it’s that down-to-earth horror that works to its favor. The events in We Don’t Live Here Anymore are all relatively similar. The characters frequently seem solely concerned with the dirty things they do. I was so caught up in their cycles of emotions, though, that I didn’t bristle this. The plot is as biting as that of a more eventful drama; director John Curran makes everyday life more stunning than even the most accomplished of experts in realist cinema.

     I often praise the entire casts of this type of film for delivering “powerhouse performances.” Face it: superb acting in an independent ensemble effort is usually inevitable. But, in this case, I can only praise three of the four leads. Naomi Watts’ brilliant work is painstaking and challenging. Peter Krause is interesting and sometimes bitterly funny. Mark Ruffalo finds a note of subtlety, and vents about the chaos consuming him in a quiet, effective manner, throughout the film. Last, and definitely least, comes one of the few weak links in the film, the unnatural and exaggerating Laura Dern. She brings such superficiality to the otherwise engagingly layered material, which will often prevent viewers from immersing themselves in “the moment”. Had Dern been better, or another actress been cast, I think that We Don’t Live Here Anymore would’ve acquired a higher level of success.

     We Don’t Live Here Anymore is the third Andre Dubus novel-to-film adaptation to grace the silver screen, with the other two being last year’s House of Sand and Fog and 2001’s In the Bedroom. This is probably the least successful of the pack, but is still clearly coherent and usually impacting. Certainly better than the average mainstream fare or typical art-house production, We Don’t Live Here Anymore has a good shot at clinching a spot on my upcoming 2004 edition of “The Summer’s Best”.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews (9.11.2004)

Back to Home
The Bucket Review's Rating Scale