Review: A Good Marriage
PLOT: Darcy (Joan Allen) has it all: three grown, successful kids, and an adoring husband (Anthony LaPaglia). When hubby's away on a business trip, Darcy makes a shocking discovery: her husband is actually a notorious serial killer, who's killed twelve women over the last few decades.
REVIEW: A curious thing happened the other week, in that on a press release sent out promoting this film, journalists were asked to refer to this by its full title, which is STEPHEN KING'S A GOOD MARRIAGE rather than simply A GOOD MARRIAGE. This is nothing new for King I suppose, and it's not a surprise that the distributors would want to play up its connection to the famous writer. The good news is that this one has a legitimate claim to this possessive credit, as not only is it based on King's short story, but he also wrote the screenplay.
Sadly, King's connection is really the only thing that distinguishes the movie from your run of the mill low budget thriller. It's not an especially exciting film, even if the premise is solid. The idea of someone not really knowing their spouse even after decades of marriage is compelling. Do we ever really know someone? Yet, while this no doubt made for a great short story, it's not especially exciting as a feature. It would have made a killer hour of some anthology show (not that they exist any more) but it's fairly dull as a film. Too much time is devoted to Darcy walking around her house, looking through her husband's things or doing research. Once she actually finds out what's going on, she plays along for far too long for it to be especially convincing even if King goes through pains to make you understand why exactly she can't go to the police.
One good thing about A GOOD MARRIAGE is that Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia are extremely well cast. The two make for a convincing couple and have strong chemistry. Allen's been off the big-screen for too long, and she's a likable, warm figure, convincing as a passionate wife, a loving mother, and a tough heroine. The same thing goes for LaPaglia, who's good at conveying duplicity, a must for the part. He looks like a nice-enough guy, but he also can shoot you a devastating, deranged look that's uncomfortably convincing.
Another vet, Stephen Lang comes into the fray later-on as a veteran cop on the trail of LaPaglia's alter-ego, and in an interesting twist he plays the part as terminally ill. Sadly, he only really figures in to the last fifteen minutes, and one wishes more time had been spent on him early on.
In the end, A GOOD MARRIAGE is a so-so movie. Its not terribly exciting but if you're a Stephen King completist you'll want to see this regardless and at least you do get some typically sharp King dialogue as well as a trio of strong performance. But again, it would have made for a much better short. It does feel like an episode of something stretched to feature-length.