out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
The Secret Lives Of Dentists
Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4
Dentistry is a metaphor here - and it's an effective one for Alan
Rudolph's musings on marriage and human relationships. Dr. Dave Hurst (Campbell
Scott) not only practices dentistry with Dr. Dana (Hope Davis) but, as
husband-and-wife, they've built a seemingly perfect life, complete with three
beautiful daughters and a weekend home in the country. But, as people, they're
quite different. Aside from his professional lament, "Your best work never sees
the light of day," Dave's dull but content. Dana's not. An amateur soprano,
she's passionately involved in a local production of a Verdi opera, and Dave
suspects she's having an affair. Rather than confront Dana with the root of his
distrust, Dave hallucinates. His emotional repression triggers fantasized
conversations with his most cantankerous patient (Denis Leary), an irate
trumpet-player with a toothache. And, in the midst of this emotional angst, the
entire family is felled by stomach flu.
Idiosyncratic writer/director Alan Rudolph ("Mrs. Parker and the Vicious
Circle"), known for his fortuitous casting, concentrates on observing the
complexities and paradoxes of domestic drama, particularly the symptoms of
stagnation and marital despair. Less effective is Craig Lucas's structured
screenplay, adapted from Jane Smiley's novella, "The Age of Grief."
Credit the actors for rising above decay like "Life is what destroys a
tooth"...and a marriage. Campbell Scott (son of George C.) delivers a superbly
nuanced performance, good enough to rival last year's "Roger Dodger," and
soulful Hope Davis radiates a dreamy desperation. On the Granger Movie Gauge of
1 to 10, "The Secret Lives of Dentists" is a sensitive, compassionate 7. Like a
visit to the dentist, it's ultimately beneficial, but that doesn't mean it's
easy to endure.
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger
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