P.T. Philben ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man is written and directed by Josh Hope and premiered at the Boston Film Festival. When the film was introduced by a member of the organizing body it was referred to as “interesting”. One would probably assume one of two things; that it is genuinely interesting or that the word choice was a euphemism to avoid having to say that the film is bad.
The story opens with our hero Riley (Tommy Beardmore) describing, through thorough narration in complement to the visuals, his day to day life which includes his dissatisfying marriage and miserable dead end job with co-workers he hates. He is later relieved of these burdens on his existence in a series of unexpected events; his wife (Kate Froehlich), who perfectly encapsulates the “basic white girl” stereotype to the effect of a hardy even if cheap laugh, tells him in the latest trendy restaurant that she is leaving him for another man. He flips out because he feels cheated for having stuck with the marriage despite his misery only to be dumped. He is forced to leave his home and all of his worldly possessions (along with the car the where in) are stolen. With the entirety of what was formerly anchoring him down gone, Riley decides to take a trip to his hometown in Oklahoma to figure out where it all went wrong in life.
The cast is solid, with the charismatic Beardmore managing to rise above a relatively thinly written character to give a reasonably compelling performance. The supporting cast is reasonably good as well. The only aspect of this film that can be said to be specifically bad is the fact that there are a few scenes that cut from one shot to another with one of the angles being filmed with what is very clearly a different (substantially lower quality) camera in a way that breaks the illusion in a stark fashion. That’s the worst specific part, and its a problem that’s few and far between. However, this is not the greatest shortcoming of the movie. The greatest fault of this picture is failing to meet one very simple expectation: presenting something interesting.
One might expect a film that was introduced by curators of the festival as “interesting” would at least be interesting insofar as that’s usually a good word to describe a bad film without being blunt about it. You would also expect a film with such a weird title advertised as a dark comedy and marketed with a poster that is simply a naked man standing in a corn field to at least be interesting. The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man is not an interesting film. There isn’t really much in this film to speak of that was done poorly. Everything; the directing, the writing, the cinematography, the editing, the acting and the music are all just so painfully average. It’s also less enjoyable than most films that can be described as average because it does not really try to be anything more than that. Many films come out with a middling quality that had higher ambitions that are a bit easier to appreciate that this film’s self satisfied sense of its own mediocrity. Also, there isn’t all that much dark humor so much as there is pessimistic humor, but don’t go into this movie expecting something like In Bruges.
The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man fails to set its ambition beyond putting together a well enough put together but utterly forgettable hitchhiker flick. There just isn’t a lot that will follow you out of the theater which ironically dooms it as a cinematic experience more than any disaster.
Overall Grade: C-