Here’s a movie with characters so unlikable that the one I had the most sympathy with was the town weenie-wagger. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think there was anybody here we were supposed to like, as they were all self-obsessed suburbanites who seemed to have missed out on understanding what life is all about, and how to find a place in it. Kate Winslet is unhappy in her marriage and gorgeous hunk Patrick Wilson is unhappy in his. Naturally they have a torrid affair. Each has a real complaint with the spouse, and each is saddled with a child, which, they now realize, closes down pretty much all your good options. They miss the options. So, what else is new? But the story unfolds in unexpected ways, and the acting and writing (and wry narration) all work very well. The answers are never simple, and the story never goes quite where you expect it to go, including a truly shattering ending that doesn’t even involve the adulterous couple.
Speaking of which, the Academy got it wrong. I loved Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, and of course everyone expected Eddie Murphy to win for Dreamgirls, but the Oscar for Supporting Actor should have gone to Jackie Earle Haley, one of those actors doomed by the shape of his face to play psychopaths and such. You just know he could be a child molester, he’s the demon we all see when we think of such people. But looks alone can’t bring a thankless part like this alive, and he completely wowed me. And his “mommy,” too, played by Phyllis Somerville. She deserved a nomination, as well.