The Secret Lives of Dentists

Dir: Alan Rudolph
Star: Campbell Scott, Hope Davis, Dennis Leary, Robin Tunney

Chris is certain I'm heading for a midlife crisis; trying to convince her it isn't inevitable is kinda tricky, especially given movies like this. Campbell Scott plays David Hurst, half of a husband & wife dental team, who becomes convinced that his spouse (Davis) is having an affair; his fear and paranoia takes the form of a trumpeter with bad teeth (Leary), who sits around the house, drinking beer, cooking squirrels and trying to provoke David into hasty action. To make matters worse, the entire family is coming down with gastric flu - there's more vomit here, than in probably any movie since The Exorcist.

Scott and Leary are quite excellent - the former captures the agony of a man scared to act for fear of losing what he has, while no-one could be a better malevolent alter-ego than Leary; their scenes together crackle like popcorn. But the film lacks any sense of drive; between David's first suspicions and finally confronting his wife, precious little actually happens. Angst can only take you so far, even with good actors, deeply committed to the task [Scott has been attached to the movie since 1989], and the film's climax hardly deserves the name, with one character packing their bags and walking out without a backward thought. I'm the same age as David, but while I felt sympathy for him - he is obviously a decent man, who just can't express his love for family and wife - there was no sense of connection. In the end, this is the stuff of soap opera, albeit examined under a cinematic microscope.

September 2004

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