Why do men cheat? What role does lust play in infidelity? Can a marriage careening toward destruction be saved? These are a few of the issues examined in this 96-minute cablefilm that might be described as an Americanized, hipper update of Bergman’s “Scenes From a Marriage.”
Though the film offers no easy answers of “sigh-with-relief” resolutions, its portrayal of two marriages is splendid in both its exploration and thought-provoking examination of human nature within the context of long-term marital commitment. It is also a sometimes disturbing chronicle of two couples who are forced to face the truth of their marriages and lives.
Both Tom (Griffin Dunne) and Julie (Annette O’Toole), who have been married for 10 years, know their marriage is limping toward the grave.
Tom, overworked and still finding his way following a promotion, spends his evenings watching television and his weekends obsessively working on ad campaigns, while his professor wife withdraws into a book or grades students’ papers.
Debra (Kate Burton), the wife of Tom’s best friend Geoffrey (Tony Goldwyn), calls Tom and Julie hoping to find Geoffrey, who has been away on business and missing for three days. A woman on the edge of a breakdown, she suspects Geoffrey is having an affair.
Later, the affable and somewhat hapless Geoffrey shows up with Heather (Gina Gershon), his mistress, in tow. He tells Tom he’s in love with “this creature,” and that he plans to leave Debra for her. Tom and Julie are appalled, but despite Julie’s objections, Tom lets the pair stay.
Geoffrey’s and Heather’s short stay underscores the strains present in Tom and Julie’s marriage. That evening, when Tom and Julie arrive home from work, they discover Geoffrey and Heather making torrid love in the shower. Tom’s face is etched with confusion, shock, shame, curiosity and … even envy, while Julie is fed up and wants the couple gone.
During dinner, Geoffrey’s wife, Debra, makes a surprise visit that painfully confirms all her suspicions. Geoffrey tries to make amends while Heather finally realizes she will always be “the other woman.”
Film elicits a melange of deeply felt emotions because it starkly and honestly renders the unending struggle to balance the often conflicting drives inherent in human nature. One of the strongest elements of the story is its ability to be sometimes emotional without tripping into domestic melodrama.
Evan Katz’s and Eb Lottimer’s script is wonderful in that each character clearly has something at stake.
Goldwyn’s Geoffrey is the cause which puts a series of events into effect. He’s no villain