The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 91 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Arabic
Starring: Chris Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Ira Sachs
Music by: Dickon Hinchliffe
Written by: Ira Sachs & Oren Moverman based upon the book Five Roundabouts to Heaven By John Bingham
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 2, 2008
"Don't build your happiness upon the unhappiness of others"
A strong blend of suspense, star-crossed romance and wry comedy of manners, Married Life is an unconventional human drama about the irresistible power and utter madness of love. Harry (Chris Cooper) decides he must kill his wife Pat (Patricia Clarkson) because he loves her too much to let her suffer when he leaves her. Harry and his much younger girlfriend Kay (Rachel McAdams) are head over heels in love but his best friend Richard (Pierce Brosnan) wants to win Kay for himself. As Harry implements his awkward plan for murdering his wife, the other characters are occupied with their own deceptions. Like Harry, they are overwhelmed by their passions, but still struggle to avoid hurting others. Married Life is an uncommonly adult film that surprises and confounds expectations. While it plays with mystery and intrigue, its ultimate concern is: What is Married Life? In its sly way, Married Life poses perceptive questions about the seasonal discontents and unforeseen joys of all long-term relationships.
Married life is perfectly set in 1949 which is long before the hustle and bustle of today's society where people are more accepting of the issues that conflict the characters in this film. It centers around four people. Harry (Cooper), his wife Pat (Clarkson), his best friend Richard (Brosnan) and Kay. Harry is a successful businessman and has been married to Pat for years. He finds her view on marriage to be dissatisfying (I won't divulge what that is) and has been having an affair with Kay who is (apparently) much younger than him. He showers her with gifts and affection and has decided that he is going to leave Pat. He breaks the news of this to his best friend Richard who is single and a bit of a player when it comes to women. He introduces Kay to Richard because they are his two favorite people in the world and he wants them to get to know one another. Richard takes one look at Kay and is immediately attracted to her. Harry is ready to leave Pat but feels that it would be unfair to leave her alone. He decides that rather than leave her he should poison her so she won't have to suffer without him. In the meantime Richard has plans of his own regarding Kay and begins to put them into action. The outcome is an interesting, and character driven film that looks at the things that we have in life that we sometimes take for granted. It does a great job of providing thought processes that would have been appropriate for the time but maintains enough of a visceral edge to give it a practical feel today. The cast does a superb job which is one reason that this film works so well. The other is the writing which I thought was excellent. Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson are two of the most under rated actors in Hollywood in my opinion. Both of them gave wonderful performances. Rachel McAdams is a young, talented and stunning up and coming star who is making a name for herself. She only had a couple of scenes that gave her the opportunity to bring Kay's character to life and she nailed them. This is probably the best that I have seen from Pierce Brosnan. I am happy to see him in roles like this but I felt that his best scene was cut from the film. It is featured in the bonus content in the first of three alternate endings. I didn't care for the ending itself but really liked how he played it. I really liked Married Life. Its plot is not complex or convoluted. It tells a simple story about four flawed people (although Harry seemed more so than the rest) who come to realize that happiness can be sometimes be built upon the unhappiness of others and sometimes not.
The rating is for some thematic elements and a scene of sexuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Married Life comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio that has an average bitrate of 3.2 mbps.
This was an impressive video presentation. Grain was used to give the video a grittier appearance that was perhaps reminiscent of the time period. It was well preserved and never intrusive. Colors were beautifully crafted with deeply saturated reds and naturally textured tones among the various shades of brown, gray, beige and blue. The period clothing worn by the cast contained lots of heavily woven fabrics that looked amazingly detailed in high definition. The detail rich image delivered superb rendering of the intricate and elaborate set design which went to great lengths to be accurate to the film's time period. Minutia within objects in backgrounds and close ups was easily realized within the scope of each frame. There are many close up camera shots used in the film. This allowed things like the texture of Rachel McAdams lips beneath the heavy red lipstick she wore and the bristle like nature of Pierce Brosnan's eye brows to be clearly visible. Blacks were inky with excellent dynamic range and solidity. There are quite a few scenes that take place at night. I was able to clearly make out the shape of a hedge row located at the end of a darkened street in the background as Richard (Brosnan) exits his vehicle and walks toward Kay's front door. Detail was visible within the black shirt worn by Harry later in that scene as he stands in Kay's living room and later in the dimly lit diner. The nighttime exterior shots had excellent contrast and depth of field which made them appear dimensional with visibly dark highlights.
The audio sounded airy with good tonal balance and dynamic presence. Dialogue plays an integral part in this soundtrack. Pierce Brosnan narrates quite a bit of the film. His voice sounded well textured with crystal clear intonation that allowed even subtle inflections to be detectable through the center channel. The front channels handled the bulk of the soundtrack's elements. The sound field generated across the left, center and right speakers created a well proportioned acoustic blend of the audio so that near field and background sounds hung in the proper space based upon what was occurring onscreen. The LFE channel was mixed just a little hot which gave even subtle events like knocking on a door or the droning of a 1940's car engine tangible bass representation. The only real low frequency event occurred during a thunder storm in the film's third act. As Harry exits his car and walks toward the house the room fills with the sounds of rain falling. As he starts up the walkway there is a thunder clap that delivers a nice deep mid 30hz bass tone that rocks the room. There was ambient surround sound only which was not particularly enveloping other than the aforementioned rain storm scene. No complaints though because I thought this sound mix handled the source material with aplomb.
The bonus content was on the light side and included 3 alternate endings and a commentary track. The alternate endings were all built around the same sequence which was vastly different from the theatrical version. I preferred #2 from the three but thought that the theatrical version was still the best.
- Director audio commentary track
- 3 alternate endings
- (HD)Preview for Hancock
- BD-Live enabled
Married life is a refreshing film that got away from the typically fast paced fiction films we see today. It offers a few suspenseful moments but is really an off beat drama at heart. The 1940's era time period helped to set the proper tone and pace for the film and its characters. The cast did a commendable job in bringing Harry, Pat, Richard, and Kay to life. Sony has delivered another stellar Blu-ray video presentation with high quality lossless Dolby TrueHD sound. The bonus features were scant which is too bad because I would like to have seen some background on the film and production. That certainly did not detract from the enjoyment of the film itself. I recommend that you give this one a try.
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