An elegant drama about people not acting particularly elegant towards one another, "We Don't Live Here Anymore" is based upon a couple of stories from Andre Dubus ("In The Bedroom") The picture takes a closer look at a pair of married couples and their difficulties. "We Don't" isn't one of those movies where the ship is righted in the third act; we're not sure if these couples will ever see to work out their differences.
The film focuses on Jack (Mark Ruffalo) and Edith (Naomi Watts). We see the couple together early on, and it's not long before it's apparent that they're having an affair. Their spouses are Terry (Laura Dern) and Hank (Peter Krause). Where in most films these people would be strangers, Jack and Hank are actually friends, as both are professors at the local college.
The film's look and feel certainly adds to it - Michael Convertino's light, haunting score and Maryse Alberti's crystal clear cinematography add a lush, almost dreamlike quality to some of the scenes from the film. There's some odd choices, though - the movie often cuts away to a train rumbling through the landscape - makes the movie feel too plainly like it's leading up to some sort of point where a character'll snap.
With not a whole lot of plot, the performances have to carry the day, and mostly, they do. Ruffalo and Watts are very good together, as the two provide subtle, effective performances that are compelling. Less interesting are Krause and Dern; Krause doesn't get a whole lot of focus, while Dern is solid, but her more vivid performance seems a bit out-of-place in an otherwise low-key film. The movie manages to offer performances that are rather underplayed while still maintaining some forward momentum.
The film's real program is that it never really decides how far to go with the material. Although the characters are hurtful at times, it's never really as vicious as some films are, nor does it present characters who really work in solving their problems, ending up in an cycle of arguing. That kind of thing is somewhat frustrating for the viewer after a while, as well. These people obviously don't want to be with one another, yet don't leave and don't seem to consider what this is all doing to their children, who aren't see in the movie all that much, yet seem to know entirely what's going on. There's also the matter that the slightly short film starts off in the midst of the adultry, then goes on - we don't really see anything leading up to it, which could have given the audience a bit more understanding of the characters. It's fairly basic drama (a tad distant emotionally, maybe), but with good performances and a solid visual style.
So, while the film does offer solid performances and visual style, it really doesn't offer any new insight on marital distress. The characters go through issues most have seen in other films, but the movie doesn't really get into their heads while it's all going on. It's worthwhile viewing for those seeking a somber, well-acted drama, but it's not as memorable as it should have been.
VIDEO: "We Don't Live Here Anymore" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is generally good, although there are some concerns that present themselves at times. The picture does boast fine sharpness, as the picture seemed crisp and well-defined, but rarely crystal clear. However, I'm guessing that the picture's look is intentional. While the film never seemed razor sharp, definition remained consistent.
Some minor grain (likely an intentional element of the photography) and some minor specks were visible on the print used, but otherwise, the image remained clean and clear. No edge enhancement, pixelation or other issues were present, either. The film's natural, somewhat warm color palette was accurately rendered, with no problems. Fleshtones usually seemed accurate, while black level was solid.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. An almost entirely dialogue-driven piece, there's - as expected - little for the surrounds to do here. However, the score does get a nice spread across the front speakers and dialogue remains crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer and promos for two other Warner Brothers titles.
Final Thoughts: "We Don't Live Here Anymore" offers generally superb performances from the leads, excellent visuals and some involving moments, but it really never becomes anything too new for this kind of drama. Still, those who are fans of the actors should certainly give it a try as a rental. Warner's DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but next-to-nothing in the way of supplements.